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Index to Volume 102, 1993 


Alcock, John, Of Pandas and Politics, April, 
p. 88 


Babcock, Loren E., The Right and the 

Sinister, July, p. 32 
Baker, Mary Ann, A Wondetfid Safety Net 

for Mammals, Aug., p. 63 
Bean, Michael J., Where Late the Sweet 

Birds Sang, Feb., p. 64 
Beck, Lois, With My Daughter, March, p. 6 
Bradford, James E., Ancient Indians Sought 

Shadows and Ice Caves, Aug., p. 56 
Bronnikov, Arkady G., Telltale Tattoos in 

Russian Prisons, Nov., p. 50 
Brosnan, Deborah M., A Mussel Wears an 

Expensive Seaweed Scaif, Aug., p. 51 
Browne, Robert A., Sex and the Single 

Brine Shrimp, May, p. 34 
Bruemmer, Ered, Low, Lean Killing 

Machine, Jan., p. 54 
Burger, Joanna, Shorehird Squeeze, May, p. 

Bush, Guy, Evolution in an Orcliard, Sept., 

p. 4 

Cartmill, Matt, The Bambi Sxndrome, June, 

p. 6 
Charsley, Simon R., The Rise of the British 

Wedding Cake, Dec, p. 58 
Chiappe, Luis, New Limb on the Avian 

Family Tree, Sept., p. 38 
Clark, James, New Limb on the Avian 

Family Tree, Sept., p. 38 
Cleere, Gail S., Close Encounters, Jan., p. 

20; On the Solar System's Edge, Feb., p. 

68; Wliat's in a Name?, March, p. 84; 

What's Your Sign?, April, p. 90; May Day, 

Pagan Style, May, p. 80; Planet X, June, p. 

62; Fire on the Moon, July, p. 58; Night of 

the Shooting Stars, Aug., p. 22; A Book to 

Steer By, Sept., p. 72; Target Jupiter, Oct., 

p. 40; The Big Fix, Dec., p. 30 
Clottes, Jean, Neptune's Ice Age Galleiy, 

April, p. 64 
Cloudsley-Thompson, John, When the 

Going Gets Hot, the Tortoise Gets 

Frothy, Aug., p. 33 
Courtin. Jean, Neptune's Ice Age Galleiy, 

April, p. 64 
Craig, John L.. Inbreeding in the Marshes, 

July, p. 50 


Davies, Paul, A Window into Science, July, 

p. 68 
Davis, Lloyd Spencer, Penguins with a 

Latitude Problem, Aug., p. 48 
Deyrup, Mark, Last Stand in the Sand, Dec, 

p. 42 
Diamond, Jared, Drowning Dogs and the 

Dawn of Art, March, p. 22; What Are Men 

Good For?, May, p. 24; Who Are the 

Jews .^, Nov., p. 12 


Eisner, Thomas, Last Stand in the Sand, 

Dec, p. 42 
Emerson, Sharon B., Fish Gotta Swim, 

Frogs Gotta Fly, Feb., p.46 
Engel. Peter, Staimms to Heaven, June, p 

Falk, Dean, A Good Brain is Hard to Cool, 

Aug., p. 65 
Femea, Elizabeth Wamock, Cuisine of 

Survival, April, p. 6 

Flannery, Tim, The Case of the Missing 

Meat Eaters, June, p. 40 
Frank, Laurence G., Born to Kill, Jan., p. 46 


Glickman, Stephen E., Born to Kill, Jan., p. 

Goldberg, Walter M., Fiords Down Under, 
March, p. 60 

Gould, Stephen Jay, A Special Fondness for 
Beetles, Jan., p. 4; Cordelia's Dilemma, 
Feb., p. 10; Modified Grandeur, March, p. 
14; The First Unmasking of Nature, April, 
p. 14; Four Antelopes of the Apocalypse, 
May, p. 16; The Imnsible Woman, June, p. 
14; Poe's Greatest Hit, July, p. 10; The 
Gift of New Questions, Aug., p. 4; Fungal 
Forgery, Sept., p. 12; The Razumovsky 
Duet, Oct., p. 10; The Sexual Politics of 
Classification, Nov., p. 20; Four Metaphors 
in Three Generations, Dec, p. 12 

Grange, Ken R., Fiords Down Under, March, 
p. 60 

Greene, Candace S., The Teepee with Battle 
Pictures, Oct., p. 68 

Grimaldi, David, Forever in Amber, June, p. 


Hadley, Neil F, Beetles Produce Their Own 

Waxy Sunblock. Aug., p. 44 
Hansen, Michael, Secoridliand Silk, May, p. 


Heinrich, Bemd, Kinglets' Realm of Cold, 
Feb., p. 4; Comfort in a Hive: Heads 
You're Hot, Tails You're Cold, Aug., p. 
53; A Birdhrain Nevermore, Oct., p. 50 

Henisch, Bridget Ann, The Twelfth Cake, 
Dec, p. 62 

Henschel, John R., A Wasp Keeps Its 
Zomhielike Victims Cool, Aug., p. 42 

Holekamp, Kay E., Growing Up in the Clan, 
Jan., p. 42 


Inouye, David W., Pistil-packing Flies, 
April, p. 30 


Jamieson, Ian, Inbreeding in the Marshes, 

July, p. 50 
Johanson, Donald C, A Skull to Chew On, 

May, p. 52 


Kaplan, Jonathan E., Writ in Guaymi Blood, 

Deep. 6 
Karasov, Wilham H., In the Belly of the Bird, 

Nov., p. 32 
Kastner, Joseph, At Home in Nature, Dec, p. 

Keams, Carol A., Pistil-packing Flies, April, 

p. 30 
Ketchum, Richard M., Have Camera Will 

Travel, Jan., p. 62 
Kingsolver, Barbara, The Forest in the Seeds, 

Oct., p. 36 


Larsen, Torben, Butterfly Mass Transit, June, 

p. 30 
Leland, Lysa, Teamwork Tactics, April, p. 42 
Leniham, Daniel J., Ancient Indians Sought 

Shadows and Ice Caves, Aug., p. 56; 

Damming the Past, Nov., p. 40 
Letoumeau, Deborah K., Ants That Pay the 

Piper, Oct., p. 4 
Linhart, Yan B., Barking Up the Right Tree, 

Sept., p. 44 


Marchand, Peter J., The Underside of Winter, 

Feb., p. 50 

Marsh, Alan C, Ants That Are Not Too Hot 
roTrar, Aug.,p. 43 

May, Mike, Coming in on a Wing and an 
Ear, Jan., p.28 

McMillan, Bruce, Tern Turn-on, June, p. 46 

McSween, Harry Y., Jr., A Goddess 
Unveiled, Nov., p. 60 

Milner, Richard, New Days for Old Knights, 
Oct., p. 20 

Milovsky, Alexander S., The Death of 
Winter, Jan., p. 34; Hail to Thee, Papa 
Bear, Dec, p. 34 

Mitchell, Winifred L., Lightning Sickness. 
Nov., p. 6 

Mohlenbrock, Robert H., Flagpole Knob, 
Virginia, Jan., p. 22; Cushenbury Canyon, 
California, Feb., 58; Black Branch 
Barrens, Texas, March, p. 30; Simpson 
Township Barrens, Illinois, April, p. 24; 
Forillon National Park, Quebec, May, p. 
74; Slaughter Sink, Missouri, June, p. 24; 
Phelps Cabin, Arizona, July, p. 62; Pebble 
Plains, California, Aug., p. 14; Ouachita 
Mountains, Arkansas, Sept., p. 22; Nariva 
Swamp, Trinidad, Oct., p. 26; Elk Park, 
Colorado, Nov., p. 66; Rock Bluff, 
Florida, Dec, p. 24 

Norell, Mark, New Limb on the Avian Family 
Tree, Sept., p. 38 


O'Donoghue, Mark, Hare-Raising 
Encounters, Feb., p. 26 

Pate, John S., Plants Stand on Stilts above 

Australia's Scorching Sands, Aug., p. 36 
Pister, Edwin Philip, Species in a Bucket, 

Jan., p. 14 
Pollard, Simon D., Little Murderers, Oct., p. 

Pope, Geoffrey G., Ancient Asia's Cutting 

Edge, May, p. 54 
Prance, Ghillean T., Captain Cook's 

Naturalist, May, p. 68 

Prokopy, Ron, Evolution in an Orchard, 
Sept., p. 4 


Rao, Joe, Thanksgiving's Lunar Eclipse, 

Nov., p. 84 
Robinson, Michael D., Death and Dancing 

on the Sun-baked Dunes of Namibia, 

Aug., p. 28 
Root, Nina J., Victorian England's 

Hippomania, Feb., p. 34 

Sax, Joseph L., Crusaders of the Lost Park, 

March, p. 90 
Shea, Russell E., Head Start for Terns in the 

Shade of an Alien Pine, Aug., p. 47 
Shear, William A., One Small Step for an 

Arthropod, March, p. 46 
Shepard, Paul, Bear Facts and Figures, June, 

p. 64 
Simons, Elwyn, Egypt's Simian Spring, 

April, p. 58 
Sj0vold, Torstein, Frost and Found, April, p. 

Smale, Laura., Growing Up in the Clan, Jan., 

p. 42 
Smith, David C., Between the Devil and the 

Deep Blue Lake, April, p. 38 
Snyder, Marc A., Barking Up the Right Tree, 

Sept., p. 44 
Sokolov, Raymond, Two-Faced Grain, Jan., 

p. 68; Shades of Carolina Rice, Feb., 

p.70; The TeffAlso Rises, March, p. 96; 

The Bread Baker's Holy Grail, April, p. 

94; Sun Food, May, p. 82; Barley's Ghost, 

June, p. 72; The Good Seed, July, p. 72; 

Between Rock and a Soft Place, Aug., p. 

68; A Fruit Freely Chosen, Sept., p. 76; 

The Unknown Bioengineers, Oct., p. 104; 

A Cheddar Aesthetic, Nov., p. 88; The 

Look of Food, Dec, p. 88 
Starin, E. D., The Kindness of Strangers, 

Oct., p. 44 
Stewart, Margaret M., Frequent Fliers, Feb., 

p. 42 
Stiles, Daniel, Nomads on Notice, Sept., p. 50 

Stinchecum, Amanda Mayer, Cool Illusions 

in the Land of the Rising Sun, Aug., p. 60 
Stone, Graham N., Hot-blooded Bees, July, 

p. 22 
Strier, Karen B., Menu for a Monkey, March, 

p. 34 
Struhsaker, Thomas T, Teamwork Tactics, 

April, p. 42 
Stuart, Susan, Hare-Raising Encounters, 

Feb., p. 26 

Taborsky, Barbara, The Kiwi's Parental 

Burden, Dec, p. 50 
Taborsky, Michael, The Kiwi's Parental 

Burden, Dec, p. 50 
Tattersall, Ian, How Did Humans Get That 

Way?, April, p. 57 
Thomhill, Randy, The Allure of Symmetry, 

Sept., p. 30 
Toolson, Eric C, In the Sonoran Desert, 

Cicadas Court, Mate, and Waste Water, 

Aug., p. 37 
Toumepiche, Jean-Frangois, The Living 

Museum: Faux Lascaux, April, p. 72 

Van Buskirk, Josh, Between the Devil and 
the Deep Blue Lake, April, p. 38 

Vogel, Steven, When Leaves Save the Tree, 
Sept., p. 58 

Vrba, Elisabeth S., The Pulse That Produced 
Us, May, p. 47 


Wahle, Richard A., Gimme Shelter, July, p. 

Wallach, Bret, The Lawn of a New Day, 

Sept., p. 64 
Ward, David, A Wasp Keeps its 

Zombielike Victims Cool, Aug., p. 42 
Welsch, Roger L., What, Me Quarry?. Jan., 

p. 26; Of Light Bulbs and Shaggy Dogs, 

Feb., p. 20; No Chance, March, p. 88; 

Der Ring des Bubbalungen, April, p. 28; 

Off the Wall, May, p. 30; Phony Medium, 

June, p. 28; More Hang-ups, July, p. 20; 

The Naked Truth, Aug., p. 24; For 

Immediate Release, Sept., p. 26; Omaha 

Dance Lessons, Oct., p. 30; Second 

Thoughts, Nov., p. 70; Rex Rated, Dec, p. 

Wheeler, Pete, Human Ancestors Walked 

Tall, Stayed Cool, Aug., p. 65 
White, Randall, The Dawn of Adornment, 

May, p. 60 
Wilson, Samuel M., Caribbean Diaspora, 

March, p. 54; Coffee, Tea, or Opium?. 

Nov., p. 74 
Wyatt, Tristram, Submarine Beetle, July, p. 6 

Yager, David, Coming in on a Wing and an 

Ear, Jan., p.28 
Yagil, Reuven, From Its Blood to Its Hump, 

the Camel Adapts to the Desert, Aug., p. 



Adaptation to heat, see August "keeping 

cool" issue 
Adder, Peringuey's, thermoregulation in, 

Aug., p. 28 

Conservation of elephants in. Mar., p. 90; 

Primate evolution in, Apr., p. 58; {see also 

individual listings for countries and 

Agriculture, history and development of, 

Oct., p. 104 
Akeley, Carl, as mentor of Johnsons, Jan., p. 

Alligators, eye shine at night, Nov., p. 92 
Almanacs, astronomical use of, Sept., p. 72 
Amber, insects preserved in, June, p. 58 
American Museum of Natural History, Hall 

of Human Biology, Apr., p. 72 

chorus frogs, Apr., p. 38; 

flying frogs, Feb., p. 42 and p. 46; 

Surinam toad and paradox frog, Oct., p. 

Anasazi Indians, in Southwest, Aug., p. 56 
Anemones, predation on sea slugs, Oct., p. 

Angelina National Forest, Texas, Mar., p. 30 
Ant lions, larvae of, Aug., p. 43 
Antelope, evolution of. May, p. 47 
Anthropoidea, origins of, Apr., p. 58 

Anthropologist's daughter. Mar., p. 6; 

British wedding customs, Dec, p. 58; 

Cro-Magnon cave art. Mar., p. 22; 

Jews of the Caribbean, Mar., p. 54; 

May Day, pagan origins of. May, p. 80; 

Peruvian women, social norms, Nov., p. 

Russian winter festivals, Jan., p. 34; 

Siberian bear festival. Dec, p. 34; 

Stone tools in China, May, p. 54; 

(see also Archeology) 
Ants, in Namib Desert, Aug., p. 43; 

Pheidole, on plants, Oct., p. 4 
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, 

Arizona, July, p. 62 
Apalachicola National Forest, Florida, Dec. 

p. 24 
Apples, apple maggot flies and, Sept., p. 4 
Arachnids, See Spiders 
Arapaho National Forest, Colorado, Nov., p. 


Cro-Magnon jewelry and carvings. May, 
p. 60 

Paleolithic cave art, Apr., p. 64; 

underwater, in Southwest, Nov., p. 40; 

{see also "Anthropology") 
Architectiu'e, Japanese, Aug., p. 60 
Arizona, Apache-Sitgreaves National 

Forest, July, p. 62; Canyon de CheUy, 

Aug., p. 56 
Arkansas, Ouachita National Forest, Sept., p. 


Cro-Magnon jewelry and carvings. May, 
p. 60 

Cro-Magnon, origins of. Mar., p. 22 

Native American tepee designs, Oct., p. 

paleolithic, in Cosquer Cave, Apr., p. 64 
Arthropods, brine shrimp. May, p. 34; endan- 

germent in Florida, Dec, p. 42; fossils. 

Mar., p. 46 

Human evolution in. May, p. 54; 

{see also individual listings for countries 

and animals) 

Essays (review), July, p. 68 

India, June, p. 48 

(see also "Celestial Events") 
Asymmetry, in living and fossil animals, 

July, p. 32 
Australia, extinct carnivores of, June, p. 40 
Bambi, Disney movie's effect on hunting, 

June, p. 6 
Banks, Sir Joseph, May, p. 68 
Barnacles, thermoregulation in, Aug., p. 51 
Barrens, Apr., p. 24; Mar., p. 30 
Bats, predation on mantises, Jan., p. 28 
Bears, natural history and mythology of, 

June, p. 64; Siberian hunting festival of, 

Dec, p. 34 
Bees, honey, thermoregulation in, Aug., p. 

53; thermoregulation in, July, p. 22 
Beetle, submarine, parental care in, July, p. 

6; diversity of, Jan., p. 4; wax-producing, 

Aug., p. 44 
Biogeography, of Florida scrub "islands," 

Dec, p. 42 
Bipedalism, and heat regulation, Aug., p. 65 

crowned eagle, Apr., p. 42 

digestive system of, Nov., p. 32 

dusky seaside sparrow, Feb., p. 64 

great egret, Jan., p. 76 

great homed owl, Feb., p. 76 

heat regulation in, Aug., p. 48 

kinglets, Feb., p. 4 

kinglets, golden-crowned, Sept., p. 80 

kiwis, reproduction in, Dec, p. 50 

loons, care of chicks, July, p. 76 

Mononyclms (dinosaur) and, Sept., p. 38 

nest building with silk. May, p. 40 

penguins, gentoo, Dec, p. 92 ; heat 
regulation in, Aug., p. 48 

pukeko, incest in, July, p. 50 

ravens, intelligence in, Oct., p. 50 

sanderlings, human disturbance of. May, 
p. 8 

skuas, Jan., p. 54 

tems, sooty, Aug., p. 47; least terns, 
endangerment of, May, p. 8; least tems, 
June, p. 46 
Blaauwbock, extinction of. May, p. 16 

Botanical Gardens, Royal, May, p. 68 

eastern hemlocks, Jan., p. 22 

Joseph Banks and. May, p. 68 

(see also "This Land") 
Brain, cooling and circulation, Aug., p. 65 
BrazU, monkeys of, Mar., p. 34 
Bread, sourdough, preparation of, Apr., p. 94 
Breadfruit, history of, Sept., p. 76 
Bridgewater Treatises, Mar., p. 14 
Burdock, seed disperal and, Sept., p. 80 
Butterflies, migration in, June, p. 30 
Cake, British wedding cake, history of, Dec, 

p. 58; for Twelfth Night, Dec, p. 62 
California, San Bernardino National Forest, 

Aug., p. 14; Cushenbury Canyon, Feb. p. 58 
Camels, nomads and, Sept., p. 50; ther- 
moregulation in, Aug., p. 30 
Canada, Yukon, hares in, Feb., p. 26 
Caribbean, Jews in, Man, p. 54 
Carotid rete, in thermoregulation, Aug., p. 63 
Caves, Cro-Magnon art in, Mar., p. 22; ice in 

desert, Aug., p. 56 

Almanacs, Sept., p. 72 

asteroids on the moon, July, p. 58 

astrology, Apr., p. 90 

Hubble Telescope, repair, Dec, p. 30 

Jupiter, comet impact on, Oct., p. 40 

lunar eclipse, Nov., p. 84 

Mars, exploration of, Jan., p. 20 

May Day, May, p. 80 

Perseids meteor shower, Aug., p. 22 

Planet X, June, p. 62 

planetesimals, Feb., p. 68 

star names. Mar., p. 84 
Centipedes, fossil, Mar., p. 46 
China, human evolution in. May, p. 54; 

opium war, Nov., p. 74; Wolong Natural 

Reserve, Apr., p. 88 
Cicadas, sweating mechanisms in, Aug., p. 

Clothing, Japanese, Aug., p. 60 
Colorado, Arapaho National Forest, Nov., p. 

Comet, impact on Jupiter, Oct., p. 40 
Conservation, man-made reservoirs and, 

Nov., p. 40 
Cook, Captain James, May, p. 68 
Coqui, flying frogs, Feb., p. 42 
Coral, black and snake star. Mar., p. 60 
Cosquer Cave, paintings in, Apr., p. 64 
Cro-Magnon, jewelry and carving of. May, 

p. 60; origins of art in. Mar., p. 22 
Dams, effect on environment, Nov., p. 40 
Darwin, Charles, literary style of, Dec, p. 

12; on "grandeur" of life. Mar., p. 14; 

(see also "This View of Life") 
Darwin, Erasmus, hterary style of, Dec, p. 

12; poetry of, Nov., p. 20 
Disney, Walt, Bambi and, June, p. 6 
Dragonfly larvae, predation on frog tadpoles, 

Apr., p. 38 
Eagle, crowned, Apr., p. 42 
Eclipse, lunar, Nov., p. 84 
Ecology, of suburban lawns, Sept., p. 64; 

of winter, Feb., p. 50 
Egret, great, Jan., p. 76 
Egypt, primate fossils in, Apr., p. 58 
Elephant, Jumbo, Feb., p. 34 

adapting to heat, Aug., p. 65 

Black Skull and. May, p. 52 

Cro-Magnon art and, May, p. 60 

in China, May, p. 54 

snoring and (humor), Sept., p. 26 

Turnover pulse hypothesis. May, p. 47 
Evolution, see "This View of Life" 
Extinction, dusky seaside sparrow, Feb., p. 

64; blaauwbock. May, p. 16 
Fiords, New Zealand, Mar., p. 60 

Fish, manta ray. Mar., p. 100; pupfish, 

Owens and Devil's hole, Jan., p. 14 
Flies, apple maggot and fruit fly, Sept., p. 4; 

as pollinators, Apr., p. 30 
Florida, Apalachicola National Forest, Dec, 

p. 24; arthropods of, Dec, p. 42 
Forests, effect of squirrels on, Sept., p. 44 
Forillon National Park, Quebec, May, p. 74 
Fossils, "handedness" in, July, p. 32; Black 

Skull, May, p. 52; of primates, Apr., p. 58 
Frogs, chorus, population dynamics of, Apr., 

p. 38; flying, Feb., p. 42; paradox, Oct., p. 

26; Wallace's flying frog, Feb., p. 46 
Fungus, imitation of flowers, Sept., p. 12 
Gardens, effect on the environment, Sept., p. 

Genetics, of Jews, Nov., p. 12 
Geology, of Venus, Nov., p. 60 
George Washington National Forest, 

Virginia, Jan., p. 22 
Gobi Desert, discovery of Mononychus, 

Sept., p. 38 
Hair, human loss of, Aug., p. 65 
Haldane, J.B.S. on beetles, Jan., p. 4 
Handedness, in animals, July, p. 32 
Hares, snowshoe, Feb., p. 26 
Heat, see August "keeping cool" issue 
Hippopotamus, Obaysch, Feb., p. 34 
Hubble Telescope, repair, Dec, p. 30 
Humor, {See "Science Lite") 
Hunting, as influenced by movie Bambi, 

June, p. 6 
Hyenas, spotted, sibUcide in, Jan., p. 42 
Iceman, alpine, Apr., p. 60 
Illinois, Shawnee National Forest, Apr., p. 24 
Impalas, in Okavango Delta, Botswana, Apr., 

p. 98 
India, astronomical observatory in Jaipur, 

June, p. 48 
Indians, Panamanian, retrovirus and, Dec, p. 
6; {See also Native Americans and 
individual listings) 

Ants and ant Uons in desert, Aug., p. 43 
Apple maggot and fruit flies, Sept., p. 4 
Bees, thermoregulation in, July, p. 22 

Beetles, wax-producing, desert, Aug., p. 

Butterfly migration, June, p. 30 
Cicadas, sweating in, Aug., p. 37 
Dragonfly larvae, predation on frog 

tadpoles, Apr., p. 38 
Flies, as pollinators, Apr., p. 30 
Honey bees, thermoregulation in, Aug., p. 

Ladybugs, life cycle of, Aug., p. 74 
Pheidole ants, on plants, Oct., p. 4 
Praying mantis, Jan., p. 28 
Preserved in amber, June, p. 58 
Scorpion fly, symmetry and, Sept., p. 30 
Submarine beetle, parental care in, July, 

p. 6 
Wasps, parasitic, and spiders, Aug., p. 42 
InteUigence, in animals, Oct., p. 50 
Invertebrates, see individual listings 
Iran, Zagros mountains. Mar., p.6 
Iraq, food of, Apr., p. 6 
Isle Royal National Park, Michigan, Apr., 

p. 38 
Japan, clothing and architecture in, Aug., p. 

Jews, genetic heritage of, Nov., p. 12; in 

Caribbean, Mar., p. 54 
Johnson, Martin and Osa, Jan., p. 62 
Jupiter, impact of comet on, Oct., p. 40 
Jurassic Park, humorous review of, Dec, p. 

Kenya, nomads in, Sept., p. 50 
Khanty, of Siberia, Dec, p. 34 
Kibale Reserve, Uganda, Apr., p. 42 
Kinglet, golden-crowned, and burdock, 
Sept., p. 80; golden-crowned, survival of, 
Feb., p. 4 
Kiwis, brown, reproduction in, Dec, p. 50 
Knight, Charles, restoration of murals, Oct., 

p. 20 
Ladybugs, life cycle of, Aug., p. 74 
Lascaux, replica of cave art of, Apr., p. 72 
Lawns, effect on the environment, Sept., p. 

Leaves, aerodynamics of, Sept., p. 58 
Leopard, in storm, June, p. 76 

Leopold, Aldo, philosophy of, Jan., p. 14 
Lightning sickness, in, Peruvian Indians, 

Nov., p. 6 
Limpets, thermoregulation in, Aug., p. 51 
Linnaeus, life work of, Apr., p. 14 
Lizard, frilled, Oct., p. 112; sand-diving, 

thermoregulation of, Aug., p. 28 
Lobsters, baby, behavior of, July, p. 42 
London, Jack, as mentor of Johnsons, Jan., p. 

Loons, common, care of chicks, July, p. 76 

African monkeys, Oct., p. 44 

Bats, predation on mantises, Jan., p. 28 

Bears, natural history of, June, p. 64 

Brain cooling in, Aug., p. 65 

Camels, nomads and, Sept., p. 50 
thermoregulation in, Aug., p. 30; 

Hippopotamus, Feb., p. 34 

Impalas, Apr., p. 98 

Leopard, in storm, June, p. 76 

Monkeys, muriqui. Mar., p. 34; colobus 
Apr., p. 42 

Pandas, Apr., p. 88 

Snowshoe hares, Feb., p. 26 

Spotted hyenas, Jan., p. 42 

Squirrels, bark feeding of, Sept., p. 44 

Voles, Feb., p. 50 

Zebras, Gervy's, May, p. 86 
Mansi, of Siberia, Dec, p. 34 
Manta ray. Mar., p. 100 
Mantis, praying, flight and hearing in, Jan., 

p. 28 
Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri, June, 

p. 24 
Mars, communication with, Jan., p. 20 

Bread baking, Apr., p. 94 

Breadfruit, Sept., p. 76 

Carolina rice, Feb., p. 70 

Cheddar cheese, Nov., p. 88 

Crepes, May, p. 82 

Food presentation, Dec, p. 88 

Grain-based beverages, June, p. 72 

History of agriculture. Oct., p. 104 

Ice cream, Aug., p. 68 

Rice, flavorings of, Jan., p. 68 

Teff, Mar., p. 96 

Wheat, history of, July, p. 72 
Medicine, herbal. Mar., p. 34; retroviruses, 

Dec, p. 6 
Mediterranean, sea cave, art in, Apr., p. 64 
Mining, carbonate rock, Feb., p. 58 
Missouri, Mark Twain National Forest, June, 

p. 24 
Mongolia, discovery of Mononychus in 

Gobi, Sept., p. 38 
Monkey, muriqui, diet of. Mar., p. 34; green, 

red colobus, patas, Oct., p. 44 
Mononychus, discovery of, Sept., p. 38 
Moon, impact of asteroids on, July, p. 58 
Murals, by Charles Knight, restoration of, 

Oct., p. 20 
Mussels, thermoregulation in, Aug., p. 51 
Mumalism, of ants and plants, Oct., p. 4 
Nariva Swamp, Trinidad, Oct., p. 26 
National Forests, (See individual hstings and 

"This Land") 
Native Americans, humor and, Oct., p. 30; 

Kiowa, tepees of, Oct., p. 68; Pueblo and 

Anasazi, Aug., p. 56; quarries and, Jan., p. 

26; (see individual hstings for tribes in 

Central and South America) 
New Mexico, ice caves in, Aug., p. 56 
New Zealand, birds of, Jan., p. 54; fiords of, 

Mar., p. 60; kiwis and, Dec, p. 50 
Nomads, Gabbra, in Kenya, Sept., p. 50; 
Qashqu'i, in Iran, Mar., p. 6 
Okavango Delta, impalas in, Apr., p. 98 
Opium, trade between West and China, Nov., 

p. 74 
Ornithology, (See "Birds") 
Ouachita National Forest, Arkansas, Sept., p. 

Owl, great homed, Feb., p. 76 
Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, 

Dec, p. 88 

"Handedness" in fossils, July, p. 32 

Black Skull, May, p. 52 

DNA, extracted from fossils, June, p. 58 

Early primate fosssils, Apr., p. 58 

Extinct carnivores, June, p. 40 

First land animals. Mar., p. 46 

Gobi Desert expeditions, Sept., p. 38 
Panama, Guaymi Indians, Dec, p. 6 
Pandas, giant, future of, Apr., p. 88 
Parthenogenesis, in biine shrimp. May, p. 34 
Penguins, gentoo, feeding of young, Dec, p. 

92; heat regulation in, Aug., p. 48 
Perseids meteor shower, Aug., p. 22 
Peru, Aymara Indians' "lightning sickness," 

Nov., p. 6 
Photography, wildlife, pioneers of, Jan., p. 

Piper plants, ant colonies and, Oct., p. 4 
Planet X, search for tenth planet, June, p. 62 
Planetary geology, of Venus, Nov., p. 60 
Planetesimals, 1992 QBl, Feb., p. 68 
Plants, stUt, adaptions to heat, Aug., p. 36 
Poaching and wildhfe. Mar., p. 90 
Poe, E.A., as author of conchology text, July, 

p. 10 
Prairie plants, Apr., p. 24; Mar., p. 30 

African monkeys, cooperation of, Oct., p. 

Colobus monkeys, predation of, Apr., p. 

Muriqui monkeys, Man, p. 34 

Origin of higher, Apr., p. 58 
Pueblo Indians, in Southwest, Aug., p. 56 
Pukeko, incest in, July, p. 50 
Punctuated equilibrium, theory of, Feb., p. 

Quebec, Forillon National Park, May, p. 74 
Rain forest, frogs in canopy, Feb., p. 42 
Ravens, inteUigence in, Oct., p. 50 
Razumovsky brothers, Oct., p. 10 

Agua de Arroz (Spanish rice tea), June, p. 

Apricot ice cream, Aug., p. 68; 

Atole Blanco (Mexican com tea), June, p. 

Boza (wheat and rice drink), June, p. 72; 

Crepes, May, p. 82 

Fried bread, July, p. 72 

Horchata de Arroz (rice drink), June, p. 72 
Injera amd YesuffFitfit, Mar., p. 96 
Polenta with tomato-cheese sauce, Nov., 

p. 88 
Poricha (barley tea), June, p. 72 
Qymaq Chai (tea), Dec, p. 88 
Rice with port and fava beans, Feb., p. 70 
Risotto with Celery, Feb., p. 70 
Sri Owen's Nasi Ulam, Jan., p. 68 
Stuffed breadfruit, Sept., p. 76 
Wheat berry kebabs, Oct., p. 104 
Wild yeast sourdough, Apr., p. 94 

Reproduction, asexual, in brine shrimp. May, 
p. 34 


Adder, Peringuey's, Aug., p. 28 
Alligators, Nov., p. 92; as Australia's main 

carnivores, June, p. 40; 
Lizard, frilled Oct., p. 112; sand-diving, 

Aug., p. 28 
Tortoise, African, Aug., p. 33 


Bears: Majestic Creatures, June, p. 64 
Cranks, Quarks, and the Cosmos, July, p. 

Faith in a Seed, Oct., p. 36 
Joseph Banks: A Life, May, p. 68 
Made From this Earth, Dec, p. 78 
Noah's Garden, Sept., p. 64 
Redesigning the American Lawn, Sept., 

p. 64 
The Eye of the Elephant, Mar., p. 90 
The Last Panda, Apr., p. 88 
They Married Adventure, Jan., p. 62 
Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, Feb., p. 

Rice, Carolina, Feb., p. 70; flavorings of, 
Jan., p. 68 

Russia, prisoners and tattoos in, Nov., p. 50; 
Siberian hunting festivals, Dec, p. 34; 
winter festivals in, Jan., p. 34 

Salten, Felix, author of Bambi, June, p. 6 

San Bernardino National Forest, California, 
Aug., p. 14; Feb., p. 58 

Sanderlings, habitat disturbance and. May, p. 


Chance, matters of. Mar., p. 88 

Communication, in families, Nov., p. 70; 
Technology, July, p. 20 

Graffiti, May, p. 30 

Jurassic Park, review, Dec, p. 28 

Light bulb jokes, Feb., p. 20 

Native American, humor of, Oct., p. 30; 
Quarries and, Jan., p. 26 

Skinny-dipping, Aug., p. 24 

Snoring and human evolution, Sept., p.26; 

Telephone, problems of, June, p. 28 

Tool borrowing, Apr., p. 28 
Icorpion flies, symmetry of, Sept., p. 30 
ieaweed, as insulation for mussels, Aug., p. 

ihrimp, brine, reproduction of. May, p. 34 
iilk, nest buOding and. May, p. 40 
iinkholes, in Missouri, June, p. 24 
ikuas, brown, as predators and scavengers, 

Jan., p. 54 
Jlugs, sea, predation by anemones, Oct., p. 

inake star, and black coral. Mar., p. 60 
inow, life under, Feb., p. 50 
iouth America, {See individual countries 

and animals) 
iparrow, dusky seaside, Feb., p. 64 
ipider, desert, and wasps, Aug., p. 42; crab, 

feeding of, Oct., p. 58; fossil. Mar., p. 46; 

of Florida scrub, Dec, p. 42; silk used by 

birds. May, p. 40 
Jquirrels, Abert, tassel-eared, Kaibab, Sept., 

p. 44 
Itars, names of. Mar., p. 84 
itasis, of coraUite, Feb., p. 10 
itilt plants, AustraUan, adaption to heat, 

Aug., p. 36 
(tone Age, alpine mummy from, Apr., p. 60 
lymmetry, in scorpion flies, Sept., p. 30 
'attoos, in Russian prisons, Nov., p. 50 
"eff, recipes for. Mar., p. 96 
epees, painted, of Kiowa Indians, Oct., p. 

ems, least, feeding behavior of, June, p. 46; 

least, habitat disturbance and. May, p. 8; 

sooty, thermoregulation in, Aug., p. 47 
Texas, Angelina National Forest, Mar., p. 30 
Alhgators at night, Nov., p. 92 
Common loons feeding, July, p. 76 
Dead kinglet, Sept., p. 80 
Egret combat, Jan., p. 76 
Frilled hzard, Oct., p. 112 
Gentoo penguins, Dec, p. 92 
Great homed owl, Feb., p. 76 
Grevy's zebras. May, p. 86 
Impalas, Apr., p. 98 
Ladybugs, Aug., p. 74 
Leopard in storm, June, p. 76 
Manta ray, Mar., p. 100 
Thermoregulation, (See August "keeping 

cool" issue) 

Apache-Sitgreaves Forests, Arizona, July, 

p. 62 
Black Branch Barrens, Texas, Mar., p. 30 
Cushenbury Canyon, Cahfomia, Feb., p. 

Elk Park, Colorado, Nov., p. 66 
Flagpole Knob, Virginia, Jan., p. 22 
Forillon National Park, Canada, May, p. 

Nariva Swamp, Trinidad, Oct., p. 26 
Ouachita Mountains, Arkansas, Sept., p. 

Pebble Plains, California, Aug., p. 14 
Rock Bluff, Florida, Dec, p. 24 
Simpson Township Barrens, 111., Apr., p. 

Slaughter Sink, Missouri, June, p. 24 

Bell versus Darwin, Aug., p. 4 
Darwin on "grandeur," Mar., p. 14 
Erasmus Darwin's poetry, Nov., p. 20 
Extinction of blaauwbock. May, p. 16 
Fungal "flowers," Sept., p. 12 
Haldane and beetles, Jan., p. 4 
Linnaeus, importance of, Apr., p. 14 
Poe on conchology, July, p. 10 
Razumovsky brothers, Oct., p. 10 
Stasis in corallite, Feb., p. 10 

Two literary Darwins, Dec, p. 12 

Women naturalists, June, p. 14 
Thoreau, H.D., nature writings of, Oct., p. 36 
Toads, Surinam, Oct., p. 26 
Tools, stone, in China, May, p. 54 
Tortoise, African, thermoregulation in, Aug., 

p. 33 
Trees, eastem hemlocks, Jan., p. 22; leaf 

aerodynamics of, Sept., p. 58 
Trilobites, "handedness" in, July, p. 32 
Trinidad, Nariva Swamp, Oct., p. 26 
Turnover pulse hypothesis. May, p. 47 
Twelfth Night, cake and traditions of, Dec, 

p. 62 
Uganda, Kibale Reserve, colobus monkeys 

in, Apr., p. 42 
Venus, geology of, Nov., p. 60 
Viruses, HTLV-1 and HTLV-H, Dec, p. 6 
Voles, life under snow, Feb., p. 50 
Wasp, parasitic, and desert spiders, Aug., p. 

Weddings, Victorian, traditions of, Dec, p. 

Wetlands, in Arizona, July, p. 62; in 

Colorado, Nov., p. 66; in Florida, Dec, p. 

24; in Trinidad, Oct., p. 26 
Wheat, history of cultivation of, July, p. 72 
Winter, hfe under snow, Feb., p. 50 
Wolong Natural Reserve, China, Apr., p. 88 
Women, as naturalists, history of (review), 

Dec, p. 78; as nineteenth-century natural- 
ists, June, p. 14; Peruvian, "lightning 

sickness" and, Nov., p. 6 
Worids in Contact, Opium Wars, Nov., p. 74 
Zambia, North Luangwa National Park, 

Mar., p. 90 
Zebras, Grevy's, May, p. 86 
Zoos, London Zoo, Feb., p. 34 

A strange sporting event took place 
the other day. A man in a fetal 
position under a hurdle caught I 
a runner in midair. 

Is this fun, or what? 

out of his car, then flung his body under 
a hurdle and waited. Was it worth it? 
What do you think? 
Antonis used an N6006 to exper- 

Anlonis Achilleos, 

pro btisbov. amaleur . • , i i • - 

shooter, dove under a iment With and expand creativity 

. . ing woman with his , „ . , 

To Antonis Achilleos, part-time Nikon N6006.piease It autotocuses quickly and pre- 

don 'I Irv this at home. 

busboy, full-time amateur photographer, 
it is. In fact, to Antonis, making great 
photographs is more fun than making 
touchdowns, jump shots or holes in one. 



Antonis Achilleos, 

One afternoon, while driving to get a 
Slurpee, he spotted a vision of beauty 
in sweat socks flying through the air. 

Something clicked. 

He grabbed his Nikon N6006, leaped 

cisely in light as dim as a single candle. 
There's Spot Metering, Center- Weighted 
Metering, and Matrix Metering, for^^ 
rapidly changing light condi 
tions or fast- moving action. 
"Hey, Mister, duck! " 
There's a powerful pop 

which fires the flash just before the shut- 
ter closes, and he shot hiStrg%mm 

at 1 / 15th. bven though gneatesipiaures: 

the flash isn't designed to cover the entire 
frame, Antonis chose a 24mm AF Nikkor 
to exaggerate the angle. He could have 
picked any one of nearly eighty legendary 
lenses. The same lenses most pros use 
behind the dugout or in the end zone. 
The N6006f however, is the 
Nikon for people who don't 
have press credentials. Or 

msis,i.v,eNikonN6006. sideline passes. 

Auiojocusing. a bitdt-m ^ 

flash, interchangeable 

up flash with 28mm coveratje. Niktwr lenses, its how You see, this is the Nikon 

'' amateurs get their stuff 
.... , , in magazines. Just asic , , ■ rr 

Here Antonis brightened the Antonis. for a free booklet that amateurs show their stuff 

call 1-800-NIKON-35. 

foreground by increasing the flash one 
stop. And he underexposed one stop to 
maintain the ominous sky and provide 
contrast to the brightly lit foreground. 

To create a sense of motion (as if she 
needed it), he used Rear Curtain Sync, 

Seethe N6006 at authorized dealers vxhen 

wu see this symbol. Fbrmoreonlheexclusnt Nikon 

'Nikon MasterCard, call I-800-NIKON-35 X^ 

with. This is the Nikon for people with a 
passion for photography who just happen 
to be dentists, plumbers, or busboys. 

This is the Nikon photo buffs make 
part of their everyday wardrobe. 

Because who knows what you'll see 
flying in the air on your way to 7-Eleven? 


Vol. 102, No. 1, January 1993 

Cover: The sharp-eyed praying mantis is a 
fearsome predator, but it also has to avoid some 
hungry enemies. Story on page 28. Photograph by 
Laura Riley: Bruce Coleman. Inc. 

2 Letters 

4 This View of Life Stephen Jay Gould 
A Special Fondness for Beetles 

14 Species in a Bucket Edwin Phiup Pister 

When attempting to save an endangered species, 
try not to put all your eggs in one basket. 

20 Celestial Events Gaiis. cieere 

Close Encounters 

22 This Land Robert H. Mohlenbrock 
Flagpole Knob, Virginia 

26 Science Lite Roger l weisch 

What, Me Quarry? 

28 Coming In on a Wing and an Ear David Yager and Mike May 
While it may not have a prayer, the slow-flying mantis does have helpfid random 
behavior to avoid hungry bats. 

34 The Death of Winter Text and photographs by Alexander S. Milovsky 

After centuries of Christianity and decades of communism, pagan rituals still sun'ive in 
the former Soviet Union. 

42 Growing Up in the Clan Laura Smale and Kay E. Holekamp 

A hungry group of hyenas reduced the 300-poimd carcass of an antelope to a few 

scattered bones in thirteen minutes. 

46 Born to Kill Laurence G. Frank and Stephen E. Glichnnn 

54 Low, Lean Killing Machine 

Text and photographs by Fred Bruemmer 

On New Zealand's Enderby Island, the odd skuas 

are friendly to humans, but a terror for baby rabbits 

62 Reviews Richard M. Ketchum 
Have Camera Will Travel 

68 A Matter of Taste 

Raymond Sokolov 
A Two-Faced Grain 

72 At the American Museum of Natural 

76 The Natural Moment 

Photograph by Carl R. Sams II 
Egret vs. Egret 

78 Authors 


A nmUily iuiigazlae,Ql ,ihe Aijierican 


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Thomas Page Designer 

Board of Editors 

Robert B. Anderson, Florence G. Edelstein, 


Maestro. Richard Me,ner, Judy RrcE. Kvt 


Conrnbnring Editors 
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Clicas" ienyC 

AMEWCy^N Museum 
OF Natural History 

(T Golden 
an BoaidofTiuUees 

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PrestdtiU and ChicJ Executive 

Natural History (ISSN 002S-07I2) is published monthly 
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Forgotten Okapi 

Terese and John Hart (describe in their 
article, "Between Sun anci Sha(iow" {Nat- 
ural Histoty, November 1992), how the 
okapi first came to the attention of profes- 
sional zoologists in the early 1900s. It was 
familiar to the Mbuti Pygmies of the 
Congo Basin long before then, and it may 
well have been known more widely in an- 
cient times, as evidenced by a wall carving 
at Persepolis. 

Persepolis was the capital of Persia for a 
brief time. Begun about 512 B.C. under 
Darius and extended by Xerxes, it was 
burned by Alexander in 33 1 B.C. and never 
rebuilt. The eastern staircase of the 
Apadana Palace is decorated with carv- 
ings of people from various paits of the 
vast Persian empire, beaiing offerings or 
produce from their respective countries. 

During a visit to Iran in 1976 1 pho- 
tographed one of these carvings, which 
shows an African, possibly an Ethiopian, 
caiTying an elephant tusk on his shoulder 
and leading a neatly harnessed male okapi. 
Was this okapi actually transported to 
Persepolis, as suggested by the carving, or 
was it drawn on the basis of animals seen 
in Africa? Was the okapi widely known at 
that time, or was the one on the wall a 
unique specimen? Other animals in the 
same assemblage include lions, rams, 
bulls, horses, camels (bactrian and drome- 
dary), and donkeys, none of which was 
particularly rare. By whatever means the 

Persians came to know the okapi, it was 
apparently forgotten outside of Africa for 
the next 2,000 years! 

Joseph G. Gall 
Carnegie Institution of Washington 

Yew Got a Friend 

1 was taken aback by the article "Death 
and Taxus" (September 1992) for it deni- 
grates the historic perception and morbid 
reputation of the yew. 

The yew is a favorite of landscape plan- 
ners for its dense foliage lends itself to all 
manner of sculptural treatments. That the 
yew adorns grave and churchyards be- 
speaks its entirely functional character as a 
relatively hardy and low maintenance 
shrub quite appropriate to that kind of 
landscape setting. 

To enhance the reputation of the yew, I 
would note that one of the oldest known 
wooden artifacts, a fifteen-inch fragment 
including the pointed tip of a spear (or 
snow probe?), is a piece of yew from Clac- 
ton-On-Sea, England, Apparently, the 
English appreciated the yew early on and 
their appreciation continued, for the yew 
was the favored wood for all sorts of pole 
uses. Perhaps most importantly, the yew 
provided the wood for the legendary Eng- 
lish longbow. At the Battle of Agincourt 
Henry V's forest of yew brought down the 
flower of France in that very one-sided 
and classic engageinent. In a metaphorical 
sense, several thousand men with bows, 

2 Natural History 1/93 

pikes, lances and spears, all with shafts of 
yew, could be regarded with some morbid- 
ity. But the qualities of the yew led to Eng- 
lish successes. 

In the seventeenth century, the technol- 
ogy of the yew longbow and steel-tipped 
arrows with English fletching was still 
considered a military secret. Early Span- 
ish and French explorers recounted the 
prowess of American Indian archery. That 
these people were impressed could be 
partly because they both had long aban- 
doned archery and shifted to the crossbow. 
Because the EngUsh still had the yeoman 
tradition, they respected Indian archers 
skill but not their bow-and-arrow technol- 
ogy. Fearful that the Indians would find 
out what a "real bow and arrow" was 
about, the EngUsh at Bermuda interrupted 
a large shipment of several thousand bows 
and thousands of sheaves of arrows con- 
signed to the colonies. 

J. Richard Shenkel 
University of New Orleans 

A Closer Look 

Thank you for the eloquent pho- 
tographs by Scott Altenbach and fascinat- 
ing piece by Anne Brooke on fishing bats 
(October 1992). 1 thought the enclosed 
photo will give your readers a feeling of 
how accurately Brooke describes the 
cheek pouches of Noctilio that can resem- 
ble "small balloons tied beside the bat's 

Cheers for a magazine that will not stop 
surprising and captivating us. 


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A Special Fondness for Beetles 

Haldane apparently had an inordinate liking for his quip, but never wrote it down 
by Stephen Jay Gould 

Just as the Lord holds the whole world 
in his hands, how we long to enfold an en- 
tire subject into a witty epigram. The 
quotable one-liner is a mainstay of culture, 
not an innovation in our modem era of 
sound bites. How could we grasp the eter- 
nal truths of nature and humanity if we 
couldn't ask Sam to play it again or didn't 
know that nice guys finish last. 

The most widely quoted one-liner in 
evolutionary biology brilliantly captures 
the central fact about life's exuberant vari- 
ety and composition. According to an 
older tradition that Darwin overturned, we 
should be able to infer both God's exis- 
tence and his benevolence by studying the 
organisms that he created. This idea of 
"natural theology" dominated British zo- 
ology, at least from John Ray in the late 
seventeenth century to William Paley in 
the generation just before Darwin. The 
natural theologians sought God's handi- 
work not merely in the good design of or- 
ganisms but especially in the supposed 
arrangement of nature to reflect human su- 
periority and domination. 

As a powerful corrective to this arro- 
gant tradition of natural theology, evolu- 
tionists argued, early and often, that na- 
ture's undoubted order is neither 
benevolent in our terms (but "red in tooth 
and claw") nor established with us in mind 
or at the helm. The kind of God implied by 
nature's actual composition might not be a 
deity worthy of our worship. 

At this point in the argument, almost 
any evolutionist will turn to our canonical 
one-liner for epigrammatic emphasis and 
support. J. B. S. Haldane (1892-1964), 
author of the phrase, was a founder of 
modem Darwinism (see his 1932 book, 
The Causes of Evolution) and a distin- 
guished man of letters as well. I cite the fa- 
mous words from the standard source — 
not Haldane himself, but a footnote on the 
first page of the most widely read paper in 

modem evolutionary biology: "Homage to 
Santa Rosalia, or Why Are There So 
Many Kinds of Animals" {American Nat- 
uralist, 1959), by G. Evelyn Hutchinson, 
world's greatest ecologist and the only 
twentieth-century British biologist who 
could match Haldane in brilliance and wit. 
Hutchinson wrote: 

There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, of the 
distinguished British biologist, J. B. S. Hal- 
dane, who found himself in the company of 
a group of theologians. On being asked 
what one could conclude as to the nature of 
the Creator from a study of his creation, 
Haldane is said to have answered, "An inor- 
dinate fondness for beetles." 

Lovely line, but did Haldane utter it — 
and if so, when, where, and how? The 
standard source illustrates the problem — 
not hard copy with a byline, but a sec- 
ondary report, frankly labeled as "perhaps 
apocryphal." Haldane was a brilliant and 
copious writer, but he was an even more 
fluent barroom wit — and great comments 
in this venue end up either scratched into 
soggy napkins or dimly remembered in 
the midst of a hangover. 

Haldane 's line — an inordinate fondness 
for beetles — is now so famous and stan- 
dard that we really do yeam to pin down 
the source. Yet nothing is so elusive as a 
canonical well-turned phrase, for the vast 
majority of such quips are either misstated 
or misattributed (see Nice Guys Finish 
Seventh: False Phrases, Spurious Sayings 
and Familiar Misquotations, by Ralph 
Keyes, Harper Collins, 1992). I tried to 
slip two of them by you in my first para- 
graph. Leo Durocher did not confine an- 
gels to the cellar; and Humphrey Bogart 
(as Rick in Casablanca) never told Sam to 
play it again (although Woody Allen pur- 
posely used this standard error as the title 
for a film). 

Thanks to a charming, if somewhat 
cranky, English tradition — lengthy and 

passionate exchanges in letters to the edi- 
tor on the minute details of smallish sub- 
jects — we finally have both as good a res- 
olution as we can get, and a catalog of the 
usual mistakes that make canonical quota- 
tions so hard to trace. It all started in the 
October 5, 1989 issue oi Nature, when my 
friend (an Oxford professor) Bob May re- 
viewed a meeting on interactions between 
ants and plants under a title that parodied 
Haldane's quip — "An Inordinate Fond- 
ness for Ants." May began his article: 
"Haldane's best-remembered remark, that 
God has 'an inordinate fondness for bee- 
ties,' was elicited by Jowett's question, at 
high table at Balhol, as to what his studies 
had revealed about the deity." This elicited 
a firestorm — for reasons that will soon be 
obvious — and the "letters" columns of 
both Nature, Britain's leading professional 
joumal in general science, and The Lin- 
nean (newsletter of the Linnean Society of 
London) have featured a burgeoning (and 
now finally petering) exchange on the sub- 
ject ever since. 

I do not trace the history of this canoni- 
cal line in the interests of antiquarian 
pedantry, but because the enterprise can 
yield such rewards in teaching us about 
cmcially important, and often unrecog- 
nized, biases in our modes of tiiought and 
styles of storytelling. (Since so much of 
scholarship is, in effect, storytelUng, these 
biases often permeate the supposedly most 
thoughtful and rigorously objective of all 
investigations.) The pervasive errors made 
in citing and attributing canonical quota- 
tions are not random, but follow a clear 
and sensible pattem. Basically, most errors 
are aggrandizements in three categories — 
misattributions to more famous people, re- 
casting to render a quote more pithy or 
pungent, and alteration of circumstances 
to make the relatively mundane either fun- 
nier or more heroic. Let me illustrate how 
Haldane's quip about beetles has wal- 

4 Natural History 1/93 

Prayer tot 

lndi\idualU numbered by 
hand with 2'i karat qold. 

Plate shown smaller than actual 
SBC of 8' (20 32 cm) in diameter. 

The American Indian Heritage 
Foundation Museum proudly presents its 
first-ever collector plate by world-renowned 
Western artist Paul Calle. 

It is a ritual as old as the land itself. The Sioux warrior, in perfect harmony 
with the forces of nature, summons the Great Spirit to look with favor on 
the people— to provide for, and protect diem. 

Only an artist of rare talent and vision could capture the mystery and 
drama of this centuries-old ceremony. Paul CaUe, whose works are eagerly 
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lowed in all three categories of usual error, 
and how — happy ending — we can home 
in on an accurate resolution that still 
leaves Haldane with a bloody good line. 

Who said it? Haldane was sufficiently 
famous to win exemption from the "mag- 
net effect" — the directed migration of 
good quotes to more celebrated mouths. 
No biologist of Haldane's generation 
could have made the quote more notable 
by assuming false parentage. But any evo- 
lutionary one-liner in English must even- 
tually wander toward that greatest of all 
prose mongers in our profession, Thomas 
Henry Huxley. I have four misattributions 
of the beetle line to Huxley in my files 
(this essay has been gestating for more 
than a decade), and the same error may 
have prompted the howler that unleashed 
the recent round of discussion in Nature 
and ne Linnean — Bob May's statement 
that Haldane made the quip to Benjamin 
Jowett at BalUol. 

Jowett was the greatest English classi- 
cal scholar of his day. His erudition and ar- 
rogance, as master of Balliol College, 
prompted a notable couplet in the annals 
of humorous verse: 

I am the master of this college; 
What I know not is not knowledge. 

The pious and conservative Jowett would 
have been a perfect foil for Haldane's re- 
mark — but for one small problem. Jowett 
died in 1893 before Haldane had even 
reached his first birthday. (My freshman 
philosophy course in college still used 
Jowett's translation of Plato's Republic.) 
Jowett must have entered the story 
through misattribution of the beetle quote 
to Huxley (a contemporary who died in 
1895), or perhaps to Haldane's father, a fa- 
mous physiologist in his own right. 
Bob May is an Australian, not an upper 

class English Oxbridgian. But his re- 
sponse to learning about his mix-up of 
generations, published in Nature on Octo- 
ber 26, 1989, was both gorgeously arch 
and blessedly brief: "Mundane constraints 
of time and space do no apply to stories 
about Oxford." 

In what circumstances? As May noted, 
good stories require the transmutation of 
the mundane into the charming, the amus- 
ing, or the dramatic. Haldane, as we shall 
see, made the quip several times, but al- 
ways among friends. Yet the story im- 
proves immensely if the line can be recast 
as a spontaneous riposte to a specific taunt 
or to a query from a worthy adversary. 
Most versions therefore add this common 
element of myth. May used the shade of 
Jowett as an impossible foil. Hutchinson 
reported that Haldane had uttered the line 
in response to a specific query from the- 
ologians. A. J. Cain, another distinguished 
British biologist who knew Haldane well, 
wrote in 1987: "It was Haldane, not Hux- 
ley, and he told the story to me himself.. . . 
Some solemn ass asked him what could be 
inferred of the work of the Creator from a 
study of the works of Creation... and got 
the crushing reply 'An inordinate fond- 
ness for beedes.' " 

With what words? The flurry of letters 
in Nature and The Linnean have validated 
Haldane as the source of our finest one- 
Uner; at least no earlier version has been 
uncovered. Moreover, we can be fairly 
confident that Haldane did not utter the 
line in the "best story" situation of a ri- 
poste or retort; at least no victim or wit- 
ness has come forward. But as we resolve 
these questions of personality and circum- 
stance, the basic issue of Haldane's actual 
words remains elusive. Strange adventure: 
Haldane was a great writer and author of 
several popular volumes of scientific es- 


Pesticide free/ 


says (most based on his columns in the 
Communist Daily Worker — another in- 
triguing aspect of his iconoclastic career, 
but best saved for another essay). He ap- 
parently loved his quip about beetles and 
used it often in casual conversation and 
public addresses. But no one has ever 
found any evidence that he ever wrote the 
line down — and we therefore do not know 
exactly what he said (or if he varied the 

The closest thing to an "official" ver- 
sion emerged as a result of all the recent 
correspondence. On April 7, 1951, Hal- 
dane filled in for an indisposed colleague, 
the great physicist J. D. Bemal, to deliver 
an address to the British Interplanetary So- 
ciety. He did not pubUsh his remarks, but a 
report of his speech, written by the soci- 
ety's secretary, did appear in volume 10 of 
the Journal of the British Interplanetary 
Society — a publication that will not be 
found in your local library, not to mention 
your comer drug store (and another reason 
for delayed documentation of Haldane's 
remark). I present the full citation: 

Coming to the question of life being found 
on other planets. Professor Haldane apolo- 
gized for discoursing, as a mere biologist, 
on a subject on which we had been expect- 
ing a lecture by a physicist. He mentioned 
three hypotheses: 

(a) that life had a supernatural origin; 

(b) that it originated from inorganic ma- 

(c) that life is a constituent of the Uni- 
verse and can only arise from preexist- 
ing life. 

The first hypothesis, he said, should be 
taken seriously, and he would proceed to do 
so. From the fact that there are 400,000 spe- 
cies of beetles on this planet, but only 8,000 
species of mammals, he concluded that the 
Creator, if he exists, has a special preference 
for beetles. 

Fine. But have we now been deprived 
of the delicious words in our usual cita- 
tion? Did Haldane really say "special pref- 
erence," and not the much more pungent 
and ironic "inordinate fondness?" Is our 
usual version just another example of a 
falsely "promoted" quotation? Or did the 
secretary of the Interplanetary Society ei- 
ther misremember or downgrade in the 
best tradition of British understatement? 
Or did Haldane say different things at dif- 
ferent times? We shall never know, but a 
letter in The Linnean (August 1992) from 
Haldane's friend Kenneth Kermack re- 
stores our hope for accuracy of the usual 

I have checked my memory with Doris 
[Kermack's wife] who also knew Haldane 

6 Natural History 1/93 

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well, and what he actually said was: "God 
has an inordinate fondness for beetles." 
J. B. S. H. himself had an inordinate fond- 
ness for the statement: he repeated it fre- 
quently. More often than not it had the addi- 
tion: "God has an inordinate fondness for 
stars and beetles.". . . Haldane was making a 
theological point: God is most likely to take 
trouble over reproducing his own image, 
and his 400,000 attempts at the perfect bee- 
tle contrast with his slipshod creation of 
man. When we meet the Almighty face to 
face he will resemble a beetle (or a star) and 
not Dr. Carey [the Archbishop of Canter- 

So pay your money and take your 
choice. You can either select the duller 
"special preference" for beetles alone, or 
you must share the wittier "inordinate 
fondness" with all the celestial multitudes. 
I have made a hybrid compromise in the 
title of this essay. 

But what about the facts of the case? 
How inordinate is God's fondness, how 
special his preference, for the Coleoptera? 
How many species of beetles do inhabit 
our planet — and what, pray tell, does it all 
mean? In the best and most recent sum- 
mary of data, British Museum entomolo- 
gist Nigel E. Stork reports that the total 
number of formally named species of ani- 
mals and plants (excluding the diverse 
kingdoms of fungi, bacteria, and other uni- 
cellular creatures) now stands at approxi- 
mately 1.82 million. ("Insect Diversity: 

Facts, Fiction and Speculation," Biologi- 
calJoumalofthe Linnean Society, vol. 35, 
pp. 321-37). Of these, more than half are 
insects (57 percent) — and nearly half of all 
named insect species are beetles. Thus, 
beetles represent about 25 percent of all 
named species in the plant and animal 
kingdoms — good candidature, I trust we 
would all agree, for inordinate fondness. 

But this compendium of available 
mames is only a beginning, a tip of the 
proverbial iceberg. All taxonomists agree 
that the vast majority of earth's species re- 
main undiscovered and unnamed. In his 
recent book The Diversity of Life (Harvard 
University Press, 1992), my colleague Ed 
Wilson writes: 

How many species of organisms are there 
on earth? We don't know, not even to the 
nearest order of magnitude. The numbers 
could be close to 10 million or as high as 
100 million. Large numbers of new species 
continue to turn up every year. And of those 
already discovered, over 99 percent are 
known only by a scientific name, a handful 
of specimens in a museum, and a few scraps 
of description in scientific journals. It is a 
myth that scientists break out champagne 
when a new species is discovered. Our mu- 
seums are glutted with new species. We 
don't have time to describe more than a 
small fraction of those pouring in each year. 

So how inordinate is nature's fondness 
for beetles when we try to estimate actual 



May Be HrzhROous 
To Your? Sewse Of 
Self Importance 

numbers, rather than relying on the paltri- 
ness of published information? The brief 
for beetles now grows mightily in 
strength — not only for the obvious ab- 
solute gain in number of species, but pri- 
marily for increasing domination in rela- 
tive frequency, or percentage of species. 
For beetles, by their size and favored 
places of abode, rank with the most under- 
counted groups of organisms. 

A complete census of species will not 
add membership equally and across the 
board — for in some groups we nearly have 
them all; while in others we have barely 
begun to count. The worldwide company 
of bird watchers, for example, has been so 
assiduous — while the objects of study 
tend to be relatively conspicuous — that we 
expect no great increase in the 9,000 or so 
named species of birds. The influx of new 
bird species has already dwindled to the 
merest trickle, with only a species or two 
added each year. Similarly, the ledger of 
4,000 or so mammaUan species, while not 
so diligently cataloged as birds, will expe- 
rience no massive gain in novelty. 

But beetles are small and mostly incon- 
spicuous — and even the prominence of 
some as agricultural pests does not lead to 
discovery for the majority, especially 
since most beetle species have limited ge- 
ographic ranges in restricted habitats of 
the world's most lush and understudied en- 
vironments: the tropical rain forests. 
(When we realize how many species re- 
main unknown in this abode, and when we 
recognize how many are being lost daily 
as human rapacity clear cuts these rich en- 
vironments, usually for the short-term 
profits of a few, we can appreciate the ap- 
propriate focus of the environmental 
movement on tropical rain forests, even 
though these habitats may seem so distant 
from most of our immediate concerns and 

We may get some handle on the proba- 
ble number of beetle species by consider- 
ing the basis for lowest and highest esti- 
mates of the world's fauna and flora. Ed 
Wilson cited 10 to 100 million as his large 
ballpark figure. I have read estimates rang- 
ing from 1.87 to 80 million for insects 
alone — leading to some 3.5 million to 
more than 150 million animal and plant 
species altogether, if insects are about half 
the total. 

The basis for this small biological in- 
dustry of estimation lies in some remark- 
able work by the American entomologist 
Terry Erwin, published in the early 1980s. 
(Erwin was the first to give us a reasonable 
quantitative estimate for the incredible, 

8 Natural History 1/93 







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and uncataloged, diversity of tropical rain 
forests — a vital contribution both to bio- 
logical knowledge and to strategies of the 
environmental movement). In 1982, 
Erwin presented a surprising number that, 
although hard to believe at first, has since 
become a standard figure, cited in count- 
less textbooks and newspaper articles. 
Erwin concluded that 30 million species 
of arthropods alone dwell in tropical rain 
forests — and he based his estimates on 

Erwin's number comes from hard work 
in the field, not from a pocket calculator 
consulted in an armchair. He began by rec- 
ognizing that insects cataloged from rain 
forest trees are a pitiful fraction of the 
enormously diverse community actually 
Uving in these tropical heights. But how 
can a scientist census all (or even most) of 
the species in a tall tropical tree; so many 
are rare, inconspicuous, and downright se- 
cretive in their habits. Erwin therefore 
used a drastic approach: he fogged entire 
trees with volleys of strong insecticide and 
collected what fell out. (I don't mean to 

sound peremptory or facetious; such work 
is rigorous and difficult, both conceptually 
and muscularly. How do you climb trees to 
fog? How do you collect the resultant 
bounty? How do you know that you have 
recovered most of the species [for some 
die deep in the bark and do not fall out]? 
Above all, how do you identify the 
plethora of previously unknown forms, es- 
pecially since no one can be an expert on 
all groups?) 

Erwin reached his figure of 30 million 
by extrapolating from the beetles on a sin- 
gle species of tropical tree, the legume 
Liiehea seemannii. Consider this argu- 
ment in eight steps, and you will begin to 
appreciate both the difficulty of the enter- 
prise and the reasons for such a wide range 
of estimates. 

1. Working in all three seasons recognized 
in the Panamanian rain forest, Erwin 
fogged nineteen trees of Luehea see- 
mannii — thus getting a handle on varia- 
tion among trees and seasons. 

2. He counted the total number of beetle 
species recovered at some 1,200. 

3. Erwin then assigned each species to one 
of four guilds or ecological roles in 
habitat herbivores (plant eaters), fungi- 
vores (feeders on fungi), predators, and 

4. As a key problem in moving from bee- 
tles on a tree to insects in a forest, one 
must know how many of these beetles 
live exclusively on one kind of tree, and 
how many are more cosmopolitan. (If, 
for example, all 1,200 beetles lived only 
on Luehea, then the total number in the 
forest may be as high as 1 ,200 times the 
number of tree species. But if all 1,200 
beetles live on all forest tree species, 
then the total number of beetles may be 
just 1,200, period.) Erwin made his di- 
vision into guilds in order to estimate 
this degree of "endemicity" (defined 
here as confinement to a single tree spe- 
cies). He arrived at estimates of 20, 10, 
5, and 5 percent, respectively, for his 
four guilds of herbivores, fungivores, 
predators, and scavengers. 

5. Applying these indices of endemicity to 
the 1,200 beetle species collected on 
Luehea, Erwin estimated that 163 spe- 
cies might be confined to life on Lue- 

6. Worldwide diversity of tropical trees 
probably stands at some 50,000 species. 
If 163 is a reasonable average for en- 
demic beetles per tree species, then 
tropical trees house 50,000 x 163, or 
8,150,000 species of beetles. 

7. Since beetles represent some 40 percent 
of total arthropod diversity, tropical 
trees may house some 20 million spe- 
cies of arthropods. 

8. This estimate of tropical diversity only 
counts species in tree canopies. Erwin 
then figured that canopy species might 
outnumber ground-dwelling species by 
about two to one — adding another 10 
million arthropods for the forest floor, 
and raising the final estimate to 30 mil- 

The lower and higher figures of 1.87 j 
million and 80 million for rain forest 
arthropods arise from other data or differ- 
ent estimates upon figures used by Erwin 
for extrapolating, not from challenges to 
his empirical counts in fogging Luehea 
trees. For example, Nigel Stork's highest 
estimate of 80 million arises from two 
modifications of Erwin's figures, both sub- 
stantially raising the number of estimated 
species. He believes that beetles represent 
far less than 40 percent of canopy arthro- 
pod species. Stork's preferred figure of 20 
percent immediately doubles the total esti- 

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mate for rain forest arthropods. Stork also 
argues that Erwin overestimated the per- 
centage of species in the canopy versus the 
forest floor — thus yielding the still higher 
total of 80 million species when the right 
figure for ground dwellers is factored in. 

The lowest estimate of 1.87 million 
comes from a 1991 article by I. D. Hod- 
kinson and D. Casson that used for its title 
a parody on Haldane's quip: "A Lesser 
Predilection for Bugs: Hemiptera (Insecta) 
Diversity in Tropical Rain Forests" (Bio- 
logical Journal of the Linnean Society, 
vol. 43, pp. 101-109). "Bug" may be a 
vernacular term for any creepy-crawly 
(not to mention errors in computer pro- 
grams and illicit listening devices). But to 
a zoologist, "bug" is a technical term for 
insects of the order Hemiptera (often 
called true bugs in the literature for proper 
distance from ordinary usage). Hodkinson 
and Casson used bugs rather than beetles 
to make their worldwide estimate, and 
their sly title is a double entendre, for bugs 
are not nearly so rich in species as beetles 
in nature, and the authors' estimate of total 
arthropod diversity is also far smaller than 
most others offered of late. 

As Erwin extrapolated from beetles on 
nineteen trees, Hodkinson and Casson 
worked upward "from an intensive study 


of the bug (Hemiptera) fauna of a moder- 
ately large and topographically diverse 
area of tropical rain forest in Sulawesi 
Utara, Indonesia." In broadest outline, 
Hodkinson and Casson followed the same 
logic that Erwin had employed. They col- 
lected 1,690 species of bugs from Su- 
lawesi and determined that 62.5 percent 
had been previously unknown. If the 500 
described species of Sulawesi trees 
yielded 1,056 new species (the total of 
1,690 species times 62.5 percent for the 
proportion of newly found forms), then 
the worldwide figure of approximately 
50,000 species of topical trees might yield 
100 times as many new species of bugs, or 
105,600. Add these to the 81,700 species 
already described for a total estimate of 
187,300 bug species worldwide. Since 
bugs are about 10 percent of all insect spe- 
cies, the worldwide fauna of insects might 
stand at some 1.87 million. 

How can two estimates based on the 
same style of argument be so different? 
The logic, as all people who do this work 
know only too well, is "iffy" in the ex- 
treme, for the conclusions are only sound 
if the premises be true — and why should 
endemic beetles on one kind of tree in 
Panama, or true bugs in one small region 
of Indonesia, be a model or average for es- 

1) II II II 

11 ii li II 

II W II n 

H n II I' 

il H 1^ 
f! K VI 



"Excuse me, but could you direct me to the Hayden Planetarium?' 

timating an entire world's fauna? Erwin's 
estimates may be way too high because 
legume trees house more species than 
most others (and a figure derived from 
them alone will vastly overestknate world- 
wide diversity), or because he greatly 
overstated the number of beetles unique to 
each species of tree (this has been the most 
common and cogent criticism of Erwin's 
estimate). Hodkinson and Casson's esti- 
mates may be way too low because their 
area of Indonesia is relatively poor in spe- 
cies, or because they did not use so com- 
prehensive a collecting method as fogging 
trees, and may therefore have missed a 
substantial fraction of diversity. 

In any case, we certainly learn that na- 
ture's fondness for beetles is vastly more 
inordinate than a simple count of 400,000 
formally named species (Haldane's stated 
basis for his quip) would indicate. We also 
understand, from our great difficulty in es- 
timating the true number of species on 
earth, and from the vast differences among 
figures offered by our best experts, how 
preciously little we know about the natural 
history of our planet. The next time some- 
one tells you that taxonomy is a dull sub- 
ject because we have just a few details to 
fill in upon an earth already well known — 
laugh in his face. 

In the midst of this ignorance, we 
should take comfort in two conjoined fea- 
tures of nature: first, that our world is in- 
credibly strange and therefore supremely 
fascinating (the real point, I think, behind 
Haldane's quip that ultimate meaning 
must reside in the unparalleled diversity of 
a group, beetles, that rarely rivets our at- 
tention); second, that however bizarre and 
arcane our world might be, nature remains 
comprehensible to the human mind. 

I should end by cementing these two 
cardinal precepts with their canonical one- 
liners. Einstein spoke for the possibility of 
grasping natural complexity when he 
wrote, in a theological metaphor second 
only to Haldane's on beetles: Raffiniert ist 
der Herr Gott, aber boshaft ist er nicht 
(The Lord God is subtle, but he is not ma- 
licious.) As for the joy of nature's strange- 
ness, we cannot do better than a famous 
line by a chap named J. B. S. Haldane — 
and this time we know what he said be- 
cause he wrote it down! "My suspicion is 
that the universe is not only queerer than 
we suppose, but queerer than we can sup- 
pose" (from Possible Worlds, 1927). 

Stephen Jay Gould teaches biology, geol- 
ogy, and the history of science at Harvard 

12 Natural History 1/93 

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Species in a Bucket 

For a few frightening moments, there was only myself 
standing between life and extinction 

by Edwin Philip Pister 

[The naturalist] looks upon every species of 
animal and plant now living as the individ- 
ual letters which go to make up one of the 
volumes of our earth 's history; and, as a few 
lost letters may make a sentence unintelligi- 
ble, so the extinction of the numerous fonns 
of life which the progress of cultivation in- 
variably entails will necessarily render ob- 
scure this invaluable record of the past. It is. 
therefore, an important object [to presen'e 
them].... If this is not done, future ages will 
certainly look back upon us as a people so 
immersed in the pursuit of wealth as to be 
blind to higher considerations. 

Alfred Russel Wallace 

Journal of the Roycd 

Geographical Society (1863) 

When I retired in 1990, 1 built a small 
office in my backyard, equipped it with a 
phone and word processor, and began to 
reflect seriously upon a cai'eer that began 
in 195 1 and continues even in retirement. I 
remain keenly aware of the legendary bi- 
ologist Aldo Leopold's admonition that 
one of the penalties of an ecological edu- 
cation is that one lives alone in a world of 

Virtually my entire career was spent as 
a district fishery biologist for the Califor- 
nia Department of Fish and Game in the 
state's vast eastern sierra and desert re- 
gions. I worked on a great variety of man- 
agement and research programs — from 
trying to keep millions of sports fishermen 
supplied with trout to preserving the bio- 
logical integrity of desert springs that sup- 
port life forms totally unknown to most 
Americans and even to most scientists. 

Having studied wildlife conservation at 
Berkeley in 1948 under the tutelage of 
Aldo Leopold's son, A. Starker Leopold, I 
was exposed to the Leopolds' passionately 
held values regarding the natural world. 
Impressed by their view that noncon- 
formity is the highest evolutionary attain- 

ment of social animals, I carefully avoided 
the usual career track that would have 
landed me in one of my department's 
major offices in a big city. As a graduate 
student, I had specialized in limnology, the 
study of freshwater lakes, and was given 
the responsibility for nearly a thousand 
bodies of water extending from the crest of 
the Sien-a Nevada eastward to the Nevada 
state line. I was especially intrigued by the 
diversity of the landscape in my charge; if 
I left the roadhead near the base of 14,494- 
foot Mount Whitney at 9:00 a.m., I could 
make a leisurely drive to the east and have 
my lunch 282 feet below sea level on the 
floor of Death Valley. This area's life 
forms are commensurately diverse. 

Today I sit at my desk surrounded by 
forty little pocket diaries, each one sum- 
marizing a year of my career. So many 
memories and experiences are packed into 
these 2.5- by 4-inch volumes, which, to- 
gether, fill less than a shoe box. Daily en- 
tries recall a multitude of experiences: 
scaling through the usual routine meet- 
ings, conducting a twenty-seven-year pro- 
ject to restore the California golden trout 
within the Golden Trout Wilderness (still 
in progress), fighting scores of ill-consid- 
ered and highly destructive entrepreneur- 
ial invasions of valuable habitats and 
recreation areas, managing a legendary 
reservoir fishery where success is mea- 
sured by tons of trout harvested, then mov- 
ing 1 80 degrees from consumption to con- 
servation by helping save the Devil's Hole 
pupfish {Cyprinodon diabolis), a battle 
carried successfully to the U.S. Supreme 

In 1 976, the Court's landmark decision 
protected Devil's Hole — a swimming- 
pool-sized window into the underground 
aquifer and a disjunct portion of Death 
Valley Nadonal Monument — and its de- 

pendent life forms from the impact of a 
nearby ranching operation. (The ranchers 
were consuming vast quantities of unre- 
plenishable groundwater from an aquifer 
that had been undisturbed since the Pleis- 
tocene.) The smallest and most highly 
evolved of the Death Valley system pup- 
fishes, the Devil's Hole pupfish has been 
isolated from nearby pupfish populations 
for approximately 44,000 years. It exists in 
probably the most confined habitat of any 
vertebrate animal in the world: the ten- by 
fifty-foot pool in which it has evolved 
since its isolation. 

Of more than ten thousand entries con- 
tained in my diaries, the date August 18, 
1969, stands alone as the most dramatic 
and meaningful. Written with naive under- 
statement: "Transplanted Cyprinodon at 
Fish Slough; purchased alkaline D-cells, 
$2.00," this cryptic entry summarized a 
series of events that, had they not gone 
right, would have accompanied the great- 
est tragedy of my career. As it turned out, 
what happened that day simply under- 
scored the lessons I had learned earlier 
from the Leopolds and other ecological 
mentors. Perhaps such an experience was 
necessary for me to fully comprehend that 
a person's values, which serve as a com- 
pass in uncertain times, are in the long run 
vastly more important than the sport-fish- 
ing technologies that have often created 
more problems than they have solved. 

During the several pluvial periods of 
the Pleistocene epoch, much of the Great 
Basin of the American West was covered 
by large, freshwater lakes. With the ap- 
proach of the Holocene, these waters 
shrank and largely disappeared, and fishes 
were isolated within the few remaining 
permanent aquatic habitats. In North 
America, only the Cuatro Cienegas of 
Coahuila, Mexico, have as many well-de- 

14 Natural History 1/93 


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fined local populations (species confined 
to the very small, isolated habitats in 
which they evolved). The Death Valley 
drainage area of eastern California and 
western Nevada is comparable to Charles 
Darwin's Galapagos Islands and their 
finch populations. They constitute, in ef- 
fect, islands of water in a sea of sand. 

One such habitat exists in eastern CaM- 
fomia's Owens Valley, where the Owens 
pupfish (C radiosus) has been evolving 
since the Pleistocene. Because of major 
habitat changes and the introduction of 
predacious gamefishes (a deadly combina- 
tion) during the early part of the twenfieth 
century, the Owens pupfish was gradually 
eliminated from a range that once covered 
vast marshlands. By the time it was scien- 
tifically described in 1948, the species was 
believed to be extinct. One of the Death 
Valley area pupfishes, all of which evolved 
in the absence of predatory fishes, the 
Owens is almost totally defenseless 
against such introduced predators as large- 
mouth bass, which I call "chainsaws with 
fins." The Owens pupfish was among the 
first fishes to be designated an endangered 
species, a status that it unfortunately still 

Pupfishes (named for their frohcsome, 
playful behavior) are members of the killi- 


fish family, a group of fishes very popular 
among aquarium enthusiasts. The Owens 
pupfish is the largest of the nine Death 
Valley pupfishes, occasionally reaching 
two inches in length; the Devil's Hole pup- 
fish rarely exceeds one inch. Habitats are 
varied. The Owens pupfish thrives in the 
shallow, warm water that hot summer days 
bring to desert marshes; this same habitat 
may be covered with an inch or two of ice 
during wintertime, when air temperatures 
drop below zero. Conversely, the Devil's 
Hole pupfish lives in the upper reaches of 
a cavern so vast that its depth has never 
been determined, and in water at a con- 
stant 92° F. All pupfishes are feeding op- 
portunists, consuming immature insects 
and algae. They are also highly territorial. 
To survive in these rigorous habitats, 
pupfishes have evolved specialized adap- 
tations. Some live in water that exceeds 
100° E, and can tolerate up to 113° for 
short periods; daily fluctuations may be as 
much as 36°. Others live in pools with sev- 
eral times the salinity of seawater. The po- 
tential for research on the pupfishes is ex- 
citing. What' they could tell us about 
kidney function, temperature tolerance 
and adaptation, and other areas of verte- 
brate physiology alone would justify our 
concern for preserving them. In recent 


years, however, it has been heartening to 
note a shift in emphasis from what they 
can do for us to what we can do for them, 
regardless of their potential value. 

In 1964 researchers located a remnant 
population of Owens pupfish in a desert 
marshland called Fish Slough, a few miles 
from my home in Bishop, California. A re- 
covery effort was started by gradually 
reintroducing them into a few apparently 
suitable habitats, thereby getting a jump 
on the more sophisticated recovery pro- 
grams made possible later under the En- 
dangered Species Act of 1973. These early 
preservation efforts for fishes preceded the 
relatively recent, and highly commend- 
able, formalization of the science of con- 
servation biology. 

However, an unusual set of circum- 
stances that began to coalesce in the late 
1960s brought the Owens pupfish to the 
brink of extinction. Without constant sur- 
veillance, which even now is very difficult 
for harried state biologists to maintain, the 
pupfish gradually disappeared from their 
new homes and finally were confined to a 
room-sized pond a short distance below 
Fish Slough's northwest headwater 
springs. The winter of 1968-69 had 
brought heavy rains to the Owens Valley, 
but by August the unusually thick vegeta- 
tion was throwing off a great deal of mois- 
ture, and an unexplained reduction in 
spring flow contributed to the rapid deple- 
tion of the pond. It was almost completely 
dried up when an alert assistant came into 
my office and announced: "Phil, if we 
don't get out to Fish Slough immediately, 
we are going to lose the species." His pro- 
nouncement was no exaggeration. It was 
the hard truth! 

I stopped work on a trout management 
program for a major reservoir (the relative 
importance of the two projects has long 
since served as a source of humor for me), 
shouted a few words of explanation to our 
receptionist, and bolted for the door. Grab- 
bing buckets, dip nets, and aerators, we 
were joined by another colleague and im- 
mediately headed for Fish Slough, nor- 
mally a fifteen-minute drive north of our 
office in Bishop (we shaved at least five 
minutes off the usual driving time.) We 
hastened to the drying pond and carefully 
removed 800 remaining individuals, plac- 
ing them in three wire mesh cages within 
the main northwest channel of the slough, 
in a diminishing flow already less than two 
cubic feet per second. We planned to move 
them later to safer locations within the 
same general area. 

Having done all we could for the mo- 

16 Natural History 1/93 


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ment, we decided to take a quick dinner 
break before returning to move half of the 
fish (about 400) across the slough to a lo- 
cation supplied by another spring source. 
In endangered species preservation work, 
a cardinal rule is always to place your eggs 
in more than one basket. We had come 
very close to witnessing a species extinc- 
tion or, nearly as bad, a population so re- 
duced in numbers as to eventually effect 
the same tragic consequence. 

Temporarily alone in the marsh, I de- 
cided to make one final check (sometimes 
it pays to be a worrier). A glance into the 
nearest mesh cage showed that we were 
not yet out of the woods. In our haste to 

rescue the fish, we had unwisely placed 
the cages in eddies away from the influ- 
ence of the main current. Reduced water 
velocity and accompanying low dissolved 
oxygen were rapidly taking their toll. 
When taken from their natural habitat, 
pupfish are fragile creatures. They were 
overcrowded in their cages and had been 
stressed by unavoidably rough treatment 
on a hot summer afternoon. 

A number of dead and dying fish were 
already floating belly up or swimming ir- 
regularly, and it was clear that both mesh 
cages and fish would have to be moved 
immediately upstream to more favorable 
conditions nearer the springheads. I ran to 


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my pickup truck and found only two buck- 
ets (the other two were on their way back 
to town). However, there were two aera- 
tors available in addition to the all-impor- 
tant dip net. 

I netted the surviving fish into the buck- 
ets, wincing as each dead one forcefully 
demonstrated the fragility of life. I then re- 
located the cages and returned to the buck- 
ets, trusting that the battery-powered aera- 
tors had not failed during my brief 
absence. Although the passage of time has 
obscured my exact words and thoughts as 
I lugged two heavy buckets and their pre- 
cious cargo (each weighing more than 
thirty pounds) over the treacherous marsh 
terrain, I remember mumbling something 
like: "Please don't let me stumble. If I drop 
these buckets we won't have another 
chance!" I distinctly remember being 
scared to death. I had walked perhaps fifty 
yards when I realized that I literally held 
within my hands the existence of an entire 
vertebrate species. If I had tripped over a 
piece of barbed wire or stepped into a ro- 
dent burrow, the Owens pupfish would 
now be extinct! But good fortune smiled 
upon us, and the recovery continues today. 

Efforts to preserve endangered desert 
life forms never end, but essentially con- 
stitute only a temporary reprieve as 
aquatic habitats gradually decline 
throughout North America. Indiana Uni- 
versity's Lynton Caldwell, speaking of our 
environmental crisis, observed that while 
endangered species are part of this lamen- 
table phenomenon, "more importantly, the 
crisis is concerned with the kind of crea- 
tures we are and what we must become in 
order to survive." 

We have received adequate warning 
from our prophets. Aldo Leopold's "Land 
Ethic," published more than forty years 
ago in A Sand County Almanac, redefined 
Gifford Pinchot's "resource conservation 
ethic" (the greatest good for the greatest 
number in the long run) and placed hu- 
mans as simply another species within the 
global ecosystem. This concept has since 
become painfully obvious as we learn 
more about ourselves in relation to our en- 

Having spent much of the past two 
decades responding to the cynical ques- 
tion: "What good are they?" (in reference 
to my efforts on behalf of the pupfish and 
similar "insignificant" organisms), I have 
made use of an effective counterquery: 
"What good are yoiiT (a very thoughtful 
question). I then add a Leopold corollary: 
"To keep every cog and wheel is the first 

18 Natural History 1/93 

precaution of intelligent tinkering." 

Rank-and-file American citizens have 
been generally apathetic about the conser- 
vation of biological diversity, but one 
would hope not to find similar unconcern 
within the scientific community. Yet there 
is much complacency among profession- 
als, particularly among those biologists 
trapped within a tenure track and faculty 
advancement syndrome that often ranks 
quantity over quality in the research en- 
deavor. If such scientists express an inter- 
est in conservation, they usually are of the 
opinion (naively and incorrectly) that 
someone else will attend to saving species. 
At the 1992 annual meeting of the Ameri- 
can Society of Ichthyologists and Her- 
petologists, for instance, only a small per- 
centage of 385 research papers related to 
the specific area of conservation. 

Workers in the pragmatic field of con- 
servation biology frustrated by a critical 
need for answers to questions posed by 
species recovery programs, draw analo- 
gies of mowing the lawn while the house 
bums down. The possibility always exists, 
of course, that any research, no matter how 
seemingly esoteric, may someday be of 
value in saving a species. Albert Einstein 
put it this way: "I have little patience with 
scientists who take a board of wood, look 
for its thinnest part, and drill a great num- 
ber of holes where the drilling is easy." 
Unfortunately, the deadly serious matter 
of preserving biodiversity generally places 
one in the position of facing unpredictably 
thick boards, full of knots, and then being 
forced to drill holes with a bit significantly 
dulled by the bureaucratic process. 

As I walked back to my truck following 
the final transplant within Fish Slough, the 
sun had long ago set. In my dip net re- 
mained a few dead pupfish. I glanced up at 
the darkening desert sky and thought of 
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's concept of the 
infinitely large, the infinitely small, and 
the infinitely complex, represented here 
(in order) by the Milky Way, the pupfish, 
and the difficulty in pointing out the para- 
mount value of such things to an increas- 
ingly materialistic society. 

The day had been long. We had won an 
early round in a fight that will inevitably 
continue as long as we have a habitable 
planet. As a reahst, I could not help but 
ponder the ultimate fate not only of the 
Owens pupfish but of all southwestern 
fishes and species in general. I wondered 
about our future. Can the values driving 
the industrialized nations be modified suf- 
ficiently to allow for the perpetuation of all 

species, including humans? Will we ever 
realize the potential implicit in our specific 
designation as Homo sapiens, the wise 
species? I hope the day will come when 
public policy will be guided by the wis- 
dom of Aldo Leopold: "A thing is right 
when it tends to preserve the integrity, sta- 
biUty, and beauty of the biotic community. 
It is wrong when it tends otherwise." Such 
recognition could constitute perhaps the 
first major step toward creating the sus- 
tainable society upon which our long-term 
survival obviously depends. 

That August day twenty-three years ago 
had been a very humbling experience for 
me. The principles of biogeography and 

evolution I had learned many years before 
at Berkeley had taught me why the pupfish 
was here; it took the events of those few 
hours in the desert to teach me why / was. 
Such are the reflections of a biologist who, 
for a few frightening moments long ago, 
held an entire species in two buckets, one 
in either hand, with only himself standing 
between life and extinction. 

Edwin P. (Phil) Pister is Executive Secre- 
tary of the Desert Fishes Council in 
Bishop, California. A former district fish- 
ery biologist for the Ccdifomia Depart- 
ment offish and Game, he now works to 
develop and promote conser\>ation ethics. 

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Celestial Events 

Close Encounters 

by Gail S. Cleere 

No other planet in the Solar System has 
elicited more excitement than Mars. 
Known since antiquity, Mars is easily rec- 
ognizable by its color — blood red — and 
this easily explains its association with the 
gods of war, Nergal in Babylonia, Ares in 
Greece, and Mars in the vast Roman Em- 
pire. This month, the red planet rises in ad- 
vance of sunset and is well up in the east at 
the end of evening twilight, near the twin 
stars Castor and Pollux in the constellation 
Gemini. Glowing brightly at -1.4 magni- 
tude. Mars is high above the southern hori- 
zon about midnight. During the present 
passage of the earth between Mars and the 
sun, our planet makes its closest approach 
to Mars on January 3 (about 58 million 
miles away). Four days later it reaches op- 
position, meaning that Mars will be oppo- 
site the sun in our sky and therefore up for 
the entire night, making it a great time to 
look at this planet. 

In earlier times, such a close approach 
of Mars would have seized the public's 
imagination. One hundred years ago, it 
was popularly believed that there was in- 
deed life on Mars. After all, hadn't the Ital- 
ian astronomer Giovanni Schiapai-elli an- 
nounced in 1877 that he had seen "canals" 
on Mars? Wasn't this obviously a sign of 
intelligence? And hadn't our own Percival 
Lowell confimied this sighting with many 
of his own observations right here at home 
in Flagstaff, Arizona? These canals were 
assumed to be "stupendous systems of ir- 
rigation" bringing water down from the 
Martian poles to its "centers of population 
and industry." In 1910, the writer Garrett 
P. Serviss told us in Curiosities of the Sky 
that "the miraculous feat of engineering" 
was due to the planet's lower gravity force. 
Mars has an atmosphere, albeit thin, some 
water in its icecaps, and a surface temper- 
ature that is harsh but does not preclude 
life entirely. And so obviously, a close ap- 
proach of the planet was the right time to 

communicate with our brothers on Mars. 
Their secrets could be revealed "from their 
own lips," Serviss wrote, "if we could get 
into wireless telephonic communication 
with the Martians." 

Mars mania, as astronomer and writer 
Roger Sinnott calls it, increased during 
Martian oppositions. In 1898, H. G. Wells 
penned his classic The War of the Worlds. 
In 1909, there was a plan to spread an 
army of 5,000 men holding ten-cent shav- 
ing mirrors across Texas, ready to flash 
Mai's in an attempt to signal intelligent life 
there. A wealthy Parisian widow offered 
100,000 francs to anyone who was the first 
to communicate with a celestial body, with 
the exception of Mars, which would be too 
easy. During the Roaring Twenties, scat- 
tered radio signals thought to come from 
Mars inspired a touch of Mars mania in 
the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral 
Eberle. He ordered many of the navy's 
huge radio stations to shut down transmis- 
sions for three days in August 1924 and 
listen for signals from Martians. Standing 
by to tianslate was the chief of the code 
section for the Army Signal Corps, who 
didn't crack any codes then but went on, 
Sinnott tells us, to crack the Japanese 
diplomatic code Purple just before World 
War II. 

Two years later, in 1926, a Dr. Robinson 
in Hertfordshire, England, said he'd finally 
been in communication with Mars' inhabi- 
tants. During an interview, Robinson 
claimed that Martians had big ears, long 
hair, and Chinese features and that they 
smoked pipes, drank tea, and drove cars 
with weatheiproof hoods. According to 
Sinnott, reporters walked out when Robin- 
son started describing Martian "lower life 
fonns." The notion of intelligent life on 
Mars had cooled down considerably by 
the 1930s, but not the notion of life itself. 

The first successful flyby of the planet 
Mars was made m 1965 by the Mariner 4 

spacecraft. It was the first to transmit 
close-up pictures of the planet's surface. 
Mariner 9 continued the effort in 1971, 
and the Martian features thus documented 
were given non-Anglo names, such as 
Mangala, Mawrlth, Simud, and Maja 
(from Sanskrit, Welsh, Sumerian, and 
Nepah, respectively). Until September, 
with the launch of the Mars Obseiyer 
spacecraft, the last missions to Mars had 
been the two Viking landings made in 
1976. The Viking landers analyzed the sur- 
face of the planet. With all their own 
"miraculous feats of engineering" and 
technology, they were unable to prove 
conclusively whether life on Mars exists. 
The Mars Observer spacecraft is sched- 
uled to begin studying the planet when it 
arrives late in 1993. It will be placed in a 
low polar orbit and will study the planet's 
atmosphere, surface, and interior over the 
course of one complete Martian year — 
equivalent to two Earth-years. In late 
1995, with the planned arrival of two 
Russian spacecraft carrying deployable 
balloons and surface packages, the Mars 
Observer will begin to relay data back to 
Eaith from these experiments. This infor- 
mation will sharpen our understanding of 
the similarities and differences among 
Earth, Mars, and Venus and will help lay 
the foundations for future expeditions to 
the red planet. Given the curious history of 
our interest in this planet, it is somewhat 
ironic, astronomers point out, that if we 
ever get there in a manned mission, we 
will be the Martians. 

The Planets in January 

Mercury rises less than an hour before 
sunrise at the beginning of the month and 
is very low in the southeast just before 
dawn. By midmonth, the planet is too 
close to the sun to be seen, reaching supe- 
rior conjunction (slipping behind the sun 
from the earth's point of view) on the 23d. 

20 Natural History 1/93 

By the end of the month, Mercury is set- 
ting after the sun and is in the southwest- 
em sky at sunset. But it is still too close to 
the sun to be easily seen. 

Venus is a brilliant -4.4 magnitude this 
month in the southwestern evening skies. 
Early in the month the planet is not far 
from Saturn. As the month progresses, 
Samm pulls farther and farther away to- 
ward the east, reaching its greatest elonga- 
tion east of the sun on the 1 9th and leaving 
Saturn to succumb to the setting sun. 
Watch as the planet skims the bottom of 
the Great Square of Pegasus all month 
long. On the 26th and 27th. the waxing 
crescent moon pays a call, forming a par- 
ticularly attractive grouping on the 26th. 

Mars rules the night in January and can 
be found in the northeast in the constella- 
tion Gemini about an hour after sundown. 
The red planet makes its closest approach 
to the earth on January 3, which is also the 
night of the Quadrantid meteor shower 
On the 7th and 8th, the full moon passes 
just below Mars. Watch Mars' changing 
position each night near Gemini's bright 
stars. Castor and Pollux. 

Jupiter is that brilhant object due south 
just before dawn, quite bright this month 
at -2.1 magnitude. On the 14th, Jupiter and 
the last-quarter moon, together with the 
first-magnitude star Spica, form a bright 
triangle about halfway up in the predawn 
southern sky. 

Saturn sets about three hours after sun- 
set at the beginning of the month, rapidly 
becoming more difficult to spot in late Jan- 
uary skies. Passing on the far side of the 
sun (superior conjunction) on February 9, 
the ringed planet will be visible in the 
predawn sky by early March. 

Uranus and Neptune both reach con- 
junction with the sun on January 8, hidden 
behind the sun as seen from the earth. 
Since last year, these two planets have 
been inching closer and closer together 

On January 26, they will rendezvous (un- 
formnately hidden from us) and will be 
closer than they have been since 1821. 
They will not be so near again until the 
twenty-third century. 

Early in the month, Pluto rises about 
3:00 A.M. and is nearly due east of Jupiter 
just before dawn. At -1-13.8 magnitude, 
Pluto is a difficult object to observe. A 
telescope with at least an eight-inch lens or 
mirror is needed, as well as some very 
good star charts. For beginners trying to 
locate the ninth planet, the maps supplied 
in the Obsen'er's Handbook, published by 
the Royal Astronomical Society of 
Canada (University of Toronto Press), are 

The Moon is full on the 8th at 7:37 
A.M., EST; reaches last quarter on the 14th 
at 11:01 P.M. EST; is new on the 22d at 
1 :27 P.M., EST; and reaches first quarter on 
the 30th at 6:20 p.m., EST 

The Quadrantid meteor shower (named 
for a constellation, Quadrans Muralis, that 
is no longer recognized) peaks on the night 
of the 3d-4th, also the night of Mars' clos- 
est approach to the earth. One of the year's 
best showers, the radiant of this shower is 
located near the constellations Bootes, 
Draco, and Hercules, rising in the north- 
east about midnight. Unfortunately, the 
moon is up until well after midnight. But 
the shower is certainly worth an attempt — 
it has been known to reach rates of 110 
visible meteors per hour The Quadrantids 
are characteristically blue in color, with 
fine white or silver long-spreading trails. 
The parent comet of the Quadrantids is un- 

Gail S. Cleere writes on popular astron- 
omy and is a founding member of the In- 
ternational Dark Sky Association, an or- 
ganization dedicated to preserving the 
skies for astronomy. 

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Flagpole Knob, Wginia 

by Robert H. Mohlenbrock 

When Bob Glasgow, the wildhfe biolo- 
gist with Virginia's George Washington 
National Forest, alerted me to the discov- 
ery of a virgin stand of eastern hemlocks 
on Shenandoah Mountain, he promised 
me that it looked like the "Redwoods of 
the East." A few days later I met Bob and 
forest botanist Steve Croy at the forest 
headquarters in Harrisonburg and with 
eager anticipation set out on a twenty-two- 
mile drive, traveling through Mennonite 
country and passing huge turkey farms. 
Our first destination was 4,397-foot Red- 
dish Knob in the middle of Shenandoah 
Mountain, where we could get an 
overview of the entire region. 

Shenandoah Mountain is one of a series 
of northeast- to southwest-trending moun- 
tains that are separated from each other by 
broad valleys of farmland. Across the val- 
ley to the east of Shenandoah Mountain is 

the northern section of the Blue Ridge 
Mountains and its famed Shenandoah Na- 
tional Park and Skyline Drive. The moun- 
tain to the west of Shenandoah Mountain 
is West Virginia's Cheat Mountain, with 
its highest point. Spruce Knob, topping 
out at 4,860 feet. All of these mountains, 
with their lush vegetation and rounded 
ridges, are part of the Appalachian system, 
formed several hundred milUon years ago. 
As we approached Reddish Knob, we 
noticed a few quaking aspens and paper 
birches, uncommon trees for this area, in 
the dry, rocky woods. At one inviting spot 
we stopped and walked into a parklike for- 
est whose understory had been kept clear 
by lightning fires. Pennsylvania sedge 
formed a grasslike carpet over much of the 
ground, occasionally punctuated by 
painted trillium, cucumber root, fly poi- 
son, and false lily of the valley, all spring- 

The Cow Knob salainaiiJei abo\e is confined to a zone twain join niilts loiii^ 
and one mile wide on the crest of Shenandoah Mountain. Opposite page: 
Eastern hemlocks grow undisturbed northwest of Flagpole Knob. 

Rob and Melissa Simpson 

22 Natural History 1/93 

flowering members of the lily family. We 
paused to examine a low, craggy, sand- 
stone outcrop and found the succulent 
blue-leaved sedum and the related white 
alumroot and Virginia saxifrage. The 
wood rat, a pack rat, builds its nest along 
these types of rocky ledges. Lumbering in 
wood rat territory has reduced the number 
of the animals nationwide. 

After driving on to the summit, we 
viewed the rounded crest of the slightly 
lower Little Bald Knob five miles to the 
south. As its name implies, Little Bald 
Knob, like the other higher knobs in the 
aiea, is devoid of tall trees. Instead, scrag- 
gly bear oaks surtound a summit of Penn- 
sylvania sedge. Little Bald Knob has the 
added significance of being at the southern 
end of the range of the Cow Knob sala- 
mander Recognized as a species only five 
years ago, this secretive amphibian lives 
in a twenty-four-mile-long by one-mile- 
wide zone along the crest of Shenandoah 
Mountain. The animal has a black-and- 
white speckled body and large round eyes. 
Its flat snout helps it burrow under rocks 
and stones. 

The Cow Knob salamander apparently 
developed as a distinct species because it 
was isolated on Shenandoah Mountain for 
thousands of years. The forests on the 
mountain summits, inaccessible for timber 
harvesting, provide its ideal living condi- 
tions. Similar but different species of sala- 
manders live in isolation on the adjacent 
mountains. The Cheat Mountain salaman- 
der lives to the west, while the Shenan- 
doah salamander lives on the Blue Ridge 
range to the east. 

North from Reddish Knob we followed 
the Forest Service road toward Ragpole 
Knob, stopping again to explore a Penn- 
sylvania sedge opening surrounded by 
gnarly, lichen-covered hawthorns. Table 
Mountain pines, and an attractive shrub 


■m m: 


^«»«,sp .■ ^>«e^.. 


Dwaif Virginia trilliitm grows only on Shenandoah Mountain. 

Rob and Melissa Simpson 

24 Natural History 1/93 

Flagpole Knob 

For visitor information write: 

Forest Supervisor 

George Washington National Forest 

P.O. Box 233 

Harrisonburg, Virginia 22801 


known as the many-flowered pieris. The 
pieris, a member of the heath family, is so 
full of white, bell-shaped blossoms in mid- 
May that the leaves are nearly hidden. 
This sedge opening and one other, also on 
Shenandoah Mountain, are the only places 
in the world where the dwarf Virginia tril- 
lium grows. This plant's nearest relative 
lives in the Coastal Plain. 

From a roadside puUout near Flagpole 
Knob, we blazed our way down the west- 
em side of Shenandoah Mountain in the 
direction of a ravine formed by Skidmore 
Creek. Because it had rained hard the 
evening before, we had to descend slowly 
over the treacherous jumble of slippery 
rocks. Soon we found ourselves in a park- 
like forest that had rarely been disturbed 
by humans. Above a nearly continuous 
thicket of fetterbush rose the giant eastern 
hemlocks. The grove was like a redwood 
forest on a smaller scale; the hemlocks 
grew straight and tall, with several of the 
larger ones approaching a girth of three 
and a half feet at shoulder height. Several 
species of birds use the forest for nesting, 
including the red-breasted nuthatch, the 
brown creeper, and the red crossbill. 

These trees had escaped the mass lum- 
bering that has destroyed the native forests 
of the East and soon threatens to consume 
all the old-growth forests of the West. To 
prevent the loss of such natural communi- 
ties that remain in the George Washington 
National Forest, Bob Glasgow and his col- 
leagues have joined with the Virginia Her- 
itage Program to identify the best areas 
and set them aside as reserves. As Glas- 
gow commented, this approach not only 
protects biodiversity but also enhances the 
public perception of the George Washing- 
ton National Forest and relieves loggers 
from any concern that they might inadver- 
tently wipe out important populations of 
plants or animals. 

Robert H. Mohlenbrock. professor emeri- 
tus of plant biology at Southern Illinois 
University, Carbondale, explores the bio- 
logical and geological highlights of the 
156 U.S. national forests. 

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Exploring the world with expert lecturers 



Bomboij to Alexandria 

April 1-20, 1993 

Ancient and modem cities, including Bombay, India; Muscat 
and Salalah in Oman; Sana'a, Yemen; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; 
Petra, Jordan; and the Suez Canal and Alexandria in Egypt. 
Ship: 64-cabin Sea Goddess 



Maq 9-25, 1993 

Medieval ruins, archeological sites and spectacular landscapes 
of the Scilly, Skellig and Aran Islands, Dartmouth and Donegal, 
lona, St. Kilda, the Orkneys, Shetlands, Mousa and Fair Isle. 
Ship: 41 -cabin Polaris 

June 11-23, 1993 

Tortoises, turtles, marine and land iguanas, sea lions, a magnifi- 
cent array of birdlife and dramatic volcanic landscapes. 
Ship: 20-cabin Isabela II 


Rediscovering Russio ond the Baltics 

June 14-29, 1993 

Historic ports, including St. Petersburg, Kronstadt and 
Kaliningrad in Russia; Tallinn, Estonia; Riga, Latvia; Klaipeda, 
Lithuania; Gdansk, Poland; Rugen and Lubeck in Germany; 
and Amsterdam, Holland. 
Ship: 41 -cabin Polaris. 

Bergen to Spitsbergen 
June 30 - Julq 15, 1993 

Norway's spectacular fjords, as well as glaciers, icebergs, pack 
ice and Arctic flora and fauna of the Lofoten Islands, Bear 
Island, and Spitsbergen. 
Ship: 41 -cabin Polaris 



June 29 - Julq 12, 1993 

Beautiful Mediterranean islands, volcanoes, ancient sites and 
charming towns at ports-of-call on Santorini, Crete, Malta, 
Sicily and Corsica, ending at the city of Barcelona. 
Ship: 44-cabin Aurora I 


Alaska and the Russian Far East 

June 29 - Julq 1L 1993 

Wildlife and magnificent scenery from Homer to Nome, in- 
cluding Alaska's Katmai Peninsula, the Aleutians and Pribilofs, 
and Russia's Providenya and Arakamchechen Islands. 
Ship: 74-cabin World Discoverer 

Julq 10-19, 1993 

Spectacular fjords, channels, rivers, glaciers, whales, sea lions, 
bears and a wealth of birdlife in Alaska's Inside Passage. 
Ship: 37-cabin Sea Lion 

Julq 19 - August 5, 1993 

An historic transit aboard a powerful icebreaker through 
Canada's ice-packed Northwest Passage, stopping at remote 
Inuit villages and islands associated with great Arctic explor- 
ers of the past. 
Ship: 59-cabin Kapitan KMebnikov 

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What, Me Quarry? 

You can never have too many 1938 Allis Chalmers WCs 

by Roger L. Welsch 

I changed my mind the moment we 
came over the hill and I caught sight of 
Stromp's Dump. Maybe it was a flash of 
insight, or maybe I'm just getting older, 
but what I saw in this junkyard was not the 
same thing I used to see when I saw a 
junkyard — rural blight, pollution, ugli- 
ness, junk. 

For one thing, at Stromp's Dump there 
is a double row of ancient, sheet-metal 
combines flanking the entrance to the 
place, stretching off to the east and west 
almost as far as you can see. It reminds me 
of a Maya monument. I'll bet that on the 
vernal and autumnal equinoxes, if you 
stand in just the right place, maybe over 
there by that rusting steam traction engine, 
the sun rises right between that double row 
of combines, and some day archeologists 
will write about it. 

We drove slowly into Jim Stromp's 
yard. Jim wasn't home, but we had already 
been told by several dozen other people, 
who drive hours from all directions to 
Stromp's for tractor parts, that we could go 
ahead and salvage whatever parts we 
needed and then just check with him when 
we left. So we — my daughter Antonia, my 
pal Woodrow, and I — drove across the 
yard and through the big iron gate that 
leads to... The Tractor Yard. 

My 1938 Allis Chalmers WC surprises 
me a lot — nearly every time I turn the 
crank, in fact. It starts when it has every 
reason not to. it pulls better than it should 
at its age, it runs with almost no care, and 
it uses next to no gas or oil. Then, earlier 
this year. I got another 1938 Allis 
Chalmers WC (as I told my wife, Linda, 
you can never have too many 1938 Allis 
Chalmers WCs), and I found myself look- 
ing for brake parts. 

Where do you get parts for a 1938 Allis 
Chahners WC. I wondered? First, Mel up 
at the Mobil station in town gave me a cat- 
alog because, it turns out, you can buy al- 
most any part you need for almost any 
tractor ever made, including a 1938 Allis 

Chalmers WC, new or rebuilt, through the 
mail. I suppose that should have been ob- 
vious to me, but like a lot of things that 
should be obvious to me, it wasn't: tractors 
last forever and so there are a lot of 1938 
Allis Chalmers WC tractors still running 
out there and a lot of them need parts, and 
there are people who take apart tractors 
that don't run and make those parts avail- 
able for people like me who need parts. 

Mel's revelation opened a new world 
for me, but it got better — a lot better. 
Woodrow suggested that we could find 
parts even cheaper at Stromp's Dump, and 
have more fun at it. He said we could get 
things like entire front ends that we'd sure 
never get through the mail, and from the 
gleam in his eye, I knew he was telling the 
truth. So we ran up to Stromp's Dump, a 
little more than an hour away from my 
farm, and a whole new galaxy opened. 

We drove through Stromp's gate and a 
scene for all the world like Oz or Wonder- 
land stretched before us. I gasped. "Wow, 
Dad," Antonia sputtered. "There's a green 
hill and a red hill and an orange hill 
and. . ." And she was right, because the hill 

immediately to our left was covered with 
hundreds of carcasses of orange Allis 
Chalmers tractors, and the hill directly be- 
fore us was blanketed with the remnants of 
green John Deeres. There were red Inter- 
nationals, and far away, nearly at the hori- 
zon. Cases, Olivers, Fergusons, and 
Whites and... well, all in all, it was an 
amazing sight: acres and acres of tractors 
in various stages of wreckage. 

Woodrow. who had been to Stromp's 
before, took a moment to enjoy our 
amazement and then said, "Let's see your 
list." I handed him the paper listing the 
parts I hoped to find — a belt pulley, a front 
end, two full sets of brake parts, an oil 
filler cap, that sort of thing — and grabbing 
his bucket of tools, he set off wading 
through the sea of cannibaUzed WCs. An- 
tonia and I grabbed our bucket of tools and 
set off in the opposite direction across 
Allis Chalmers Ravine. 

The day was cold and cloudy, and we 
worked with some haste, hoping to get our 
parts and return to the warmth of 
Woodrow 's truck as quickly as possible. 
As we pulled, twisted, hammered, and 


26 Natural History 1/93 

pried, other drivers steered their pickup 
trucks slowly through the yard and 
stopped near likely sources of parts for 
whatever tractor they were in hopes of fix- 
ing. I heard occasional snippets of conver- 
sation over the wind, the sounds of steel 
tools on steel parts, the unmistakable 
screech of a crescent wrench burring the 
comers of a bolt and sliding off, muffled 
curses, and the sound of sucking on 
scraped knuckles. 

The Greenies on John Deere HiU spoke 
of their quests — a wide front end, fly- 
wheels, and front steel — and we Orangies 
at Alhs Chalmers Ravine combed through 
the wreckage for ours — a magneto, a fuel 
sediment bulb, the bottom half of an air 
cleaner. Occasionally we looked across 
neutral ground at one another, grunted a 
greeting, maybe borrowed a tool, but 
while it was clear that we were all there for 
the same purpose (harvesting parts), we 
were as alien to each other as ancient 
Pawnee and Lakota miners working 
within sight of each other at flint quarries. 

That was it! That was what changed my 
understanding of junkyards. I had always 
thought of places like Stromp's as terrible 
places, ugly concentrations of litter and 
ruin, but now for the first time I saw that 
this was a quarry — a tractor parts quarry. 
We were all of us — Greenies, Orangies, 
and Yellowies — engaged in a recycling 
process, salvaging entire vehicles, piece 
by piece, scavenging the abandoned to 
rescue the still serviceable. Like Native 
Americans at flint quarries, we were shar- 
ing a kind of ad hoc truce with members of 
other tribes at work in the same quarry. 

Native American Quarriers: "Boy, look 
at those ugly shagnasties over there hack- 
ing away at the worst flint in the quarry; 
won't those bozos ever learn how to make 
decent weapons? Whatever they're eating 
smells like it should have been buried a 
long time ago. Uh oh, here comes one of 
'em. What? You want to trade some of 
your elk pemmican for an antler flaker? 

Yeah, fliat sounds fair enough. Here, try a 
little of this dried chokecherry too. 'What's 
that brown flint look like over there? 
Worth digging?" 

Us: "Woodrow, look at that. Those 
dummies are trying to take off a steering 
wheel with phers — as if it made any sense 
to dink around with John Deeres to begin 
with. Is he trying to adjust that carburetor 
with a hammer, or what? Uh oh, here 
comes one of 'em. You want some pene- 
trating oil? Yeah, sure. Here you go. Help 
yourself. Blackberry brandy. Sounds 
good. Will it help break those bolts loose? 
Hmmm, I'll bet. Here, try this socket on 
that steering wheel. Didn't happen to see 
the front spindle off'n a square-nose Alhs 
WC over there, did you?" 

Different worlds, but for the moment, 
today, here at Stromp's, we're staying cool 
and avoiding discussions of rehgion, poli- 
tics, and farm implement lines. 

That afternoon, as we drove out of 
Stromp's with our Allis parts, I wondered 
if we weren't missing something by leav- 
ing so early in the day. I imagined aloud if 
maybe at night there aren't Mttle campfires 
scattered around Stromp's Dump, perhaps 
shadowy figures huddled over them, 
scouring parts with wire brashes or con- 
versing in muffled tones about a nearly 
virginal sector gear needing only one more 
pin pounded out before it can be removed 
and taken home. Maybe secret songs are 
sung, inviting the blessings of gods that 
protect or vex swathers and combines. On 
appropriate days, are there arcane rituals 
initiating young apprentices into the se- 
crets of the Massey-Harris clutch assem- 
bly, sacrifices to the spirits of internal 

"What do you think?" I asked Antonia 
and Woodrow. 

"Huh?" said Woodrow. 

"Let's eat," said Antonia. 

Folklorist Roger L. Welsch lives on a tree 
farm in Dannebrog, Nebraska. 

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Coming In on a 
^^Mng and an Ear 

A built-in sonar detector gives some praying mantises an edge in aerial combat 
by David Yager and Mike May 

A male praying mantis flies through the 
night, searching the breeze for chemical 
signals that could lead him to a receptive 
mate. Meandering at four miles per houn 
the mantis suddenly hears ultrasonic 
cries — the sonar signals of a hungry bat 
hunting nearby. In an instant, the bat de- 
tects the mantis, and the ultrasonic pulses 
come faster and louder. Now the swift and 
ferocious bat closes for the kill. This 
highly maneuverable predator is fifty 
times heavier and flies two or three times 

faster than the mantis. Can the seemingly 
helpless insect overcome these odds and 

Historically, zoologists might have ex- 
pected the mantis to use its extraordinary 
vision to help it evade the bat, even in sit- 
uations with little light. The mantis's huge 
eyes and attentive demeanor are reflected 
in its name: to the ancient Greeks, mantis 
denoted one who saw the future, a prophet 
or soothsayer. By habit, the mantis is a 
daytime hunter at the top of the inverte- 

A green, long-winged male praying mantis mates witli a larger, 
slioit-winged female, left. A tlireatened mantis, above, raises its 
forelegs and arclies its abdomen in a menacing display. 

brate food chain. Exceptional vision al- 
lows it to seize prey, flies and other insects, 
with precision. 

Although many insects can hear, hear- 
ing appeared to be absent in the mantis. 
Mantises do not produce audible sounds 
(beyond an occasional soft "whoosh" 
when handled) and were never seen re- 
sponding to sounds. Furthermore, experts 
had found no ears like the ones that are so 
prominent in crickets, katydids, grasshop- 
pers, and moths. Scientists concluded rea- 
sonably that the mantis was deaf. 

Nevertheless, the thought that mantises 
might be able to hear resurfaced periodi- 
cally among mantis aficionados and re- 
cently prompted a new set of experiments: 
if the mantis could hear, sound-related ac- 
tivity in the central nervous system could 
easily be detected with tiny wires placed 
inside the animal. These experiments 
showed conclusively that mantises can 
hear. When sounds were played, cells 
within the insect's ner\'Ous system burst 
into activity. This meant that the mantis 
has ears. But where? 

The mantis's auditory system is seem- 
ingly unique in the animal kingdom. The 
mantis is an "auditory cyclops" — it has a 
single ear in the middle of its body on the 
ventral side, or underside. All other ani- 
mals known to hear have two ears located 
on the sides of the body or the head. And 
the mantis's ear does not look like an ear at 
aU. It is a deep sht, about one millimeter 
long, with two knobs of hard cuticle at the 
front end. There are two eardrums inside 
the slit facing each other firom opposite 
walls. Unlike other insect eardrum.s. 
which generally look like membranous 
drumheads, those of the mantis are a tlirv 
stiff cuticle in a teardrop shape. Nemv- 

Ted Cheeseman 

Located on the mantis' s belly, within box 
below, the single ear is a slit containing 
two eardrums and protected by knobs of 
cuticle, at left, magnified 30 times. 
Eared mantises can hear ultrasound, 
but they cannot determine the direction 
of the source. 

physiological and behavioral experiments 
showed that the two eardrums act together 
as a unit. These experiments also sug- 
gested that having an ear in a deep sht may 
increase sensitivity to sound of certain fre- 
quencies. A highly visual insect, the man- 
tis also possesses a sensitive auditory sys- 
tem. What role does hearing play in its 
everyday life? 

Assuming mantises hear best the 
sounds most relevant to their lives, we 
tested which frequencies of sound most 
stimulated their central nervous systems. 
Neurophysiological audiograms showed 
that the mantis does not hear sounds as we 
do. The vast majority of animals, includ- 
ing humans and insects, use and hear fre- 
quencies below 10 kilohertz. (We cannot 
even hear sounds above 15 to 20 kilo- 
hertz.) For the mantis, by contrast, the best 
hearing lies in the ultrasonic range be- 
tween 25 and 60 kilohertz and up to 100 
kilohertz in some species. 

These results suggested three possible 
fiinctions for hearing in mantises. They eat 
some insects, such as katydids, that pro- 
duce nocturnal, ultrasonic songs. Maybe 
at night the mantis locates its prey by 
sound rather than by the daytime visual 
strategy. Or, it may use sound to commu- 
nicate with other mantises during 
courtship when the small, slight male has 
to convince the larger, hungry, and highly 
predatory female that he is something 
other than a meal. Finally, mantises may 

be listening to the most common animal 
source of ultrasound — hunting bats. Some 
species of moths and the green lacewing, 
for instance, are known to listen for bats in 
order to evade capture. 

The structure of an animal's auditory 
system to a large extent determines its 
hearing capabilities. The separation be- 
tween the two ears allows an animal to 
pinpoint the location of the sound 
source — a critically important capability 
in day-to-day life — by comparing the 
loudness or the timing of the signal aniv- 
ing at each ear. The mantis, however, has 
only one centrally located ear, and both 
behavioral and physiological experiments 
showed that this insect cannot locate the 
source of a sound. The mantis certainly 
could not locate prey effectively or effi- 
ciently by using sound cues. Nevertheless, 
nondirectional hearing could still be use- 
ful, though perhaps not optimal, in either 
courtship or bat avoidance. 

The most decisive clue to the function 
of mantis hearing came from months spent 
studying dried specimens in the quiet, 
dusty research rooms of museums. Ap- 
proximately 2,000 species of mantises are 
known. In contrast to temperate zones 
where mantis fauna consists of fewer than 
20 species, tropical regions such as eastern 
Africa boast up to 350 species that range 
in size from less than half an inch to more 
than five inches. Do these different man- 
tises hear differently? The results of the 

museum work on the ear anatomy of more 
than 1,000 species of mantises were corre- 
lated with physiological tests on 35 spe- 
cies of living mantises. The comparison 
showed that not all mantises have the 
same auditory capabilities. While about 
60 percent of the mantises examined have 
the type of ear described above and hear 
ultrasound, some are deaf Most of these 
earless mantises unexpectedly have an- 
other attribute in common — their wings 
are too short for flight. In other words, if a 
mantis has short wings or no wings at all, 
it also is earless and deaf This coffelation 
is so strong that almost a third of all man- 

30 Natural History 1/93 

Photographs by David Yager and Mike May 

The mantis usually flies with its legs tucked in 
and abdomen flat. When it detects the ultrasonic 
signals of a hunting bat, the mantis stretches out 
its forelegs and arcs its abdomen, below, which 
may cause the wings to stall. The insect then 
veers and dives away from the predator A strobe 
photograph, left, reveals the spiral flight path of 
one mantis exposed to ultrasound. 

tis species show auditory sexual dimor- 
phism — the males have long wings and 
hear ultrasound, but the females of the 
same species have short wings and cannot 
hear. A mantis's ability to hear ultrasound 
must be related to flight. That led us to ex- 
amine mantis flight and the insect's inter- 
action with bats. 

Our exploration into mantis flight 
started rather simply. We fastened a mantis 
to a thin wire and suspended it in the gen- 
tle wind stream from a fan; essentially, we 
placed the mantis on an aerial treadmill. 
With just a bit of coaxing, the mantis 
spread its wings and flew, assuming a 

streamlined posture with its legs tucked 
neatly against its body. But when we 
broadcast a batlike burst of ultrasound, the 
mantis snapped into action in less than a 
tenth of a second; it thrust its front legs 
forward and curled its abdomen above its 
back. Looking more closely, we noted that 
the mantis also turned its head and beat its 
wings in larger but slower strokes. The 
mantis reacted strongly to signals that re- 
sembled the echolocation cries of a hunt- 
ing bat. 

This provoked a bigger question; What 
happens when a freely flying mantis hears 
ultrasound? To keep our valuable subjects 
from flying away, we first sought this an- 
swer in a large room, about half the size of 
a baseball diamond. At one end of the 
room, we hung an enormous drape of 
black paper as a photographic backdrop. 
At the other end, we positioned a camera 
and strobe light to record stop-action pho- 
tographs. We "shot" at the freely flying 
mantis with a "batgun" — an ultrasonic 
speaker mounted on a rifle stock. Between 
the drape and the camera, we taped the 
floor at three-foot intervals. The room ac- 
quired the appearance of a scientific play- 
ing field awaiting game day. 

We then began launching majitises into 
the air one at a time, hoping they would 
cruise into camera range. One mantis after 
another flew over, under, or away from the 
camera. Finally, a mantis set its course 
past the camera. We turned on the strobe 

light, opened the camera's shutter, and 
"shot" the mantis with ultrasound. In less 
than two-tenths of a second, the mantis 
twisted into a steep, spiral dive and 
plunged to the floor, safe from the simu- 
lated bat attack. 

After many weeks of work, the flying 
mantises told a story. When ten yards or 
more away from the batgun, where the ul- 
trasound was weak, the mantis usually ig- 
nored the ultrasound or, at most, made a 
simple, level turn. Sometimes the mantis 
turned away, but at other times, it turned 
toward the ultrasound (the single-eared 
mantis couldn't tell the difference). When 
the mantis flew closer to the source of the 
sound, the ultrasound was louder and the 
insect responded vigorously. In less than 
two-tenths of a second, it rose slightly up- 
ward before turning into a power dive that 
often doubled its flight speed. At times. 
the mantis shot through a loop before the 
dive. Or, it turned during the dive. Some 
mantises dove to the floor for a landing. 
Others pulled up short and skimmed 
above the surface. At the closest range, 
just a few yards from the batgun. the ulti"a- 
sound propelled the mantis into a nearly 
vertical dive, and it often spiraled as it ap- 
proached the floor. Thus, the mantis can 
assess the urgency of the threat and re- 
spond accordingly. Nearer and nearer to 
the "bat," its response becomes progres- 
sively more dramatic, more evasive. 

The ultimate question remained; Could 

J, C. Carton; Bruce Coleman, Inc. 

A Costa Rican bat consumes a mantis, below. Mantises without 
ears are easy victims for such nocturnal hunters. A predator in 
its own right, a mantis htrks in greenery, right, waiting for 
other insects on which to feed. 

a mantis escape from a real bat hunting in 
the wild? To pursue this question, we trav- 
eled to Pinery Provincial Parle in south- 
western Ontario, a field site for bat biolo- 
gist Brock Fenton and his colleagues at 
York University and a place where the 
hunting patterns of bats have been thor- 
oughly studied. As a test site, we chose a 
parking lot near the edge of a forest where 
tall lights provided some illumination for 
the aerial encounters to follow. 

These tests required a team. One mem- 
ber chmbed to the top of a twelve-foot lad- 
den Perched above the parking lot, he gen- 
dy launched a mantis into the dark night 
air. The mantis quickly opened its wings 
and flapped across the sky as several ob- 
servers followed on foot beneath it. Sud- 
denly, a bat (in these tests, the red bat, a 
common bat of eastern North America) 
appeared from the treetops and closed on 
the mantis at roughly fifteen miles per 
hour. With every observer rooting for it, 
the mantis quickly began a steep, spiral 
dive to the ground. For a few turns, the bat 
joined the spiral, but it pulled out before 
crashing into the ground and then flew off 
in search of easier prey. The mantis could 
escape from a hunting bat. 

After more than 200 launches, we had 
observed eleven bat attacks on the mantis. 
In five of the bat attacks, the flying mantis 
used evasive maneuvers and avoided even 
a brush with the bat. In three other attacks, 
the mantis performed no nodceable eva- 
sive action and, in two of the cases, was 
capUired or at least hit by the bat. But, we 
wondered, was it hearing the bat that gave 
the mantis the edge? We tried another spe- 
cies of mantis deaf to red bat cries. We saw 
three bat attacks on this species. The man- 
tis never made a move to escape, and the 
bat invariably caught the mantis. In the 
end, we had seen six attacks in which the 
mantis failed to respond. The mantis lost 
five of those encounters. In the five cases 
when the mantis did respond to the bat, the 
mantis won and the bat flew away hungry. 

The success of the evasion lies in the in- 
sect's unpredictability; the mantis some- 
times turns to the right and somedmes to 
the left, regardless of the bat's position. 

But, how does the manfis "decide" which 
way to turn? 

An aeronautical engineer saw a pos- 
sible source of unpredictability as soon as 
he examined photographs of the mantis's 
escape response. The engineer suggested 
that the aerial maneuvers were inherently 
unpredictable because they rely on an 
aerodynamic principle called stall. Lift is 
the upward aerodynamic force that holds a 
plane — or a flying insect — up in the air. 
When one or both wings stall, they lose 
their lift. A pilot normally tries to avoid 
stalling the wings of his plane. 

When hearing a bat, a mantis often 
loses altitude, perhaps by using stall to its 
advantage. When a mantis raises its ab- 
domen in response to ultrasound, this 
move should make the front of its body lift 
up, causing the forewings to move to a 
steeper and steeper angle. At some angle, 
a forewing will stall, but each forewing is 
equally likely to stall first. If it is the right 
forewing, the mantis loses lift on the right 
side and then dives to the right. If it is the 
left forewing, the mantis dives to the left. 
Which forewing stalls first, however, is 
entirely unpredictable. So if the escape re- 
sponse does depend upon stall, it makes 
the entire flight path random. 

Regardless of the exact mechanism, the 
mantis's escape response is a good evasive 
maneuver, one discovered independentiy 

by modem fighter pilots. In a hostile aerial 
encounter with an unfriendly hot on his 
tail, a fighter pilot may pull up or turn 
steeply, quickly changing his flight path 
and losing speed. The unfriendly flies 
below and past his target, only to find his 
previous quarry now in pursuit. That is 
precisely what the mantis does, except it 
wisely avoids pursuing the bat. The mantis 
also dives toward the ground, and some- 
times we saw it skim just above the grass. 
Fighter pilots use the same maneuver in 
air-to-air combat, diving and then flying 
just above the treetops (rather than the 
grasstops), attempting to become invisible 
to the adversary's radar (analogous to the 
bat's sonar) by blending in with the back- 
ground clutter. 

When bats appeared some 60 million 
years ago, they posed a serious threat to 
noctumally flying insects. In response, the 
praying mantis developed an unpre- 
dictable evasion sfi-ategy — twisting left or 
right into a spiral dive to the ground. The 
mantis, a creature limited to the comput- 
ing power of just a few tens of thousands 
of nerve cells, thus thwarted its seemingly 
more advanced mammalian predator, the 
bat. But hmited or not, the mantis offers an 
advanced lesson in aerial combat strate- 
gies today used by fighter pilots flying 
multimillion-dollar aircraft with the latest 
tactical computer technology. D 

32 Natur,\l History 1/93 

Maslennitsa, the snow queen, is lifted on 
poles by Kreshnevo women and set 
on fire. Masqueraders dressed as devils, 
cats, and goats dance to accordian 
music as she bums. 

The Death of 

In remote eddies of Eurasia, villagers joyfully kill 
the old gods so Earth can be reborn 

Text and photographs by Alexander S. Milovsky 

For most of my professional life as a 
journalist, I have explored the nooks and 
crannies of my native land, the former 
Soviet Union, searching for survivals of 
the sacred in a supposedly secular 
country. When I found a nineteenth- 
century book on Russian folklore that 
described certain New Year's rites, I 
knew I would soon be traveling again. Its 
author, A. N. Afanasyev, had written, 
"The Slavs have an old custom of 
welcoming spring in the month of March 
and banishing Death, or Winter. They 
carry a straw effigy of Death out of the 
village and down to the river, then drown 
it or first bum it and throw the ashes into 
the water, because Winter dies in the 
burning rays of the spring Sun and the 
swift streams of thawed snow." 

Long after Russia's conversion to 
Christianity in the tenth century a.d., 
many ancient traditions survived and 
were still fairly common during the last 
century. The original New Year's 
celebrations focused on Kolyada, the 
newborn sun. Local customs varied 
widely, but folklorists recorded that some 
common elements persisted: a ring of 
bonfires to show the luminary its path 
through the sky and masked figures to 
frighten off evil spirits that might obstruct 
the solar journey. In many villages, poles 
with disks on top and fried round 
pancakes symbolized the sun. 

After more than 750 years of 
government efforts to wipe out such 
"archaic" customs, festivals connected 
with the death of winter no longer 
existed, even in the remote villages — at 

34 Natural History 1/93 

least so I was told by Russian 
ethnologists. During the mid-1980s, 
however, I set out for the far comers of 
the USSR to see-for myself what, if 
anything, remained of the old ways. 

My first trip was to the mral village of 
Kreshnevo, in the Vesegonsky District of 
the Tver Region. Although it is only 250 
miles north of Moscow, the deep forest in 
which the village is situated remains 
home to lynxes and bears. Following a 
custom that may stretch back thousands 
of years, the villagers still create gigantic 
dolls of the winter spirits, which they 
"kill" in a ritual bonfire. 

I visited Anna Sharonova, an aging 
peasant woman, whose century-old log 
house was cluttered with a jumble of 
homed masks, fake mustaches and noses, 
bits of black fur, colored paper, and balls 
of thread. Beneath the bright bare lamp, 
she and her friends and neighbors were 
busily cutting and sewing. "We are 
making the camival cosmmes," she 
explained. "It's time to hail the spring, 
even though the snow is knee-deep." 

The next moming, four large sleighs 
entered the village, drawn by horses 
wearing bright ribbons in their manes and 
jingling bells on their traces. Singing at 
the top of their lungs, the sleighs' 
passengers — gaily costumed young 
men — raced their horses to the nearby 
town of Vesegonsk, where the "pancake 
week" bazaar was already in progress. 
Accordian music was heard everywhere, 
and jester-clowns entertained crowds in 
the market square. Festivities continued 
all day, culminating in the highhght of the 


week: the execution of Maslennitsa, the 
snow queen. 

At sunset, her larger-than-hfe effigy, 
resplendent in an orange-gold dress, was 
driven on a sleigh down the main village 
street as a crowd followed. Amid 
laughter, horseplay, and song, she was 
escorted to the riverbank, where firewood 
had been stacked. The dry logs blazed 
swiftly in the dark with an orange flame 
that resembled the orange of her dress. 
When the bonfire was high, the doll was 
raised on poles and placed within it. 
Instantly, the flames enveloped her paper 
dress, her straw hair, and her body. The 
Kreshnevo women, it seemed to me, were 
sorry to consign to the flames the 
handsome doll they had so assiduously 
labored over — but that was her fate from 
the beginning. Milk was poured on the 

fire, signifying that the weeks of milk and 
cheese were over, for Lent had begun. 
Anticipating its imminent defeat, I 
thought. Winter shed large tears of moist 
snowflakes that hissed as they turned to 
steam on the birchwood embers. 

A year later, at the end of January, I 
trudged tlirough deep snow to the 
Dagestan village of Shayitly, perched 
among the Caucasus Mountains, in 
Russia's southwest, to join the winter 
festival of Igby. Along the way, I followed 
canine tracks and came upon the bloody 
site where wolves had recently taken a 
deer. When I reached Shayitly late at 
night, exhausted, I found the villagers 
busily preparing for the holiday. Skins 
and masks were being refurbished, and 
the ritual igi bread was being baked, all in 
prepaiation for the first appearance of 

sunshine upon the mountainside facing 
the village — an event that is considered 
the beginning of the end of winter. 

I stayed in the house of the forest 
waiden, who told me that the botsi, or 
magical "wolves," would descend from 
the hills the next morning. Shortly after 
dawn, with the whole village gathered in 
the square, I sat and watched the first 
light illuminate the mountainside and 
heard the exultant cries of young boys. 
They had spotted two strange figures 
coming toward the town. Suddenly, two 
more botsi appeared. Festooned with 
colored ribbons, these "wolf spirits" were 
dressed in sheepskins and tall, conical fur 
hats attached to masks. More of them 
advanced on the town squaie from all 
sides, waving long wooden swords, 
bullying people, and pushing some into 

36 Natural History 1/93 

Mysterious mud-bedaubed marauders, 
the beriki rush around the Georgian 
countryside, brazenly demanding tribute. 

the snow. Unrecognizable to their 
neighbors, they remained silent so as not 
to reveal their identities. Later, they went 
from house to house collecting tributes of 
crusty igi breads on their swords. 

Toward late afternoon, the main 
character of the festival, Quidih, made his 
appearance by ambling down the same 
mountainside. He was a tall, shaggy 
creature, with a large head, expressive 
bulging eyes, and an enormous pink 
mouth with shining copper teeth. His 
giant wooden jaw repeatedly opened and 
clacked closed. Villagers and botsi alike 
were respectful, yet bolder youngsters 
ventured to tug at his garb or jab a 
wooden stick into his giant mouth. No 
one could tell me the meaning of 
Quidih's name or the story of his origin. 
Yet all agreed that he was the supervisor 

of this crucial day after which spring 
began, and that he had to be decapitated if 
they wanted warm days to follow. 

Ascending an ice platform, the 
mysterious visitor was greeted by the 
village schoolmaster, who announced that 
"this day the most just Quidili has come 
down from the hill to praise all hard- 
working people and to denounce idlers, 
spongers, drunks, and cheats." After the 
spirit figure had solemnly nodded 
agreement, the best shepherds, 
dairymaids, pupils, and dancers were 
awarded an igi bread. Then the village 
miscreants were named, and the botsi 
dragged them to the riverside, where they 
were dunked in ice-cold water 

After justice had been meted out, 
Quidili wished the villagers peace, 
prosperity, and a good harvest and then 
followed the botsi to the local river 
bridge. There he calmly lay down and 
was "decapitated" by a village elder 
wielding a violet-red sword, leaving a 
puddle of make-beUeve blood in the 
snow. I remembered the bloodstained 
snow I'd seen the day before; despite 
relentless persecution, both the real 
wolves and the ritual wolves had 
managed to survive in these woods. 
Several botsi put the "corpse" on a 
stretcher and carried it away. Merriment 
returned quickly, and the wolves shed 
their costumes out of sight of the crowd 
and rejoined their neighbors amidst the 

In late February, in the Kakhetian 
village of Patar Chailuri on the Georgian 
side of the Caucasus Mountains, I 
witoessed a similar drama: the Berikaoba 
festival. Here the traditional 
masqueraders are known as beriki: four 
mysterious, whip-wielding characters 
dressed in skins and colored cloth. They 
cover their faces with huge, black 
sheepskin masks that have turkey feather 
"horns" and shreds of goat wool for 
mustaches, eyebrows, and beard. Along 
with them travels a wild boar personage, 
covered in white pigskin, with a hideous 
tusked mouth; a masked drummer; and a 
donkey and driver 

Quidili. the shaggy giant who appears at 
midwinter in the Caucasus Mountains, is 

Rowdy and brazen, this bizarre band 
smeared themselves with mud and rushed 
around the village creating 
pandemonium. Their goatskin masks and 
sheepskin capes, ancient symbols of 
fertihty and fecundity, are welcome 
harbingers of spring. Although they 
"invaded" every house, shrieking and 
demanding gifts from each family, their 
hosts gladly handed over bread, fiuit, 
eggs, cheese, and wine. Those 
householders who refused to pay tribute 
were punished by having mud daubed on 
their faces. 

Eventually, the beriki rushed into the 
village square, where the crowd had been 
entertained by wrestling matches, and 
began to enact an annual drama. Circling 
the tall pole erected there, they began to 
imitate the sowing of com by dragging 
the handles of their whips through the 
earth. At this point, the pigman began 
"ruining" the field and was chased and 
whipped by the beriki until they "killed" 
him. Finally, all retired to an elder's 
house, where they shed their costumes 
and consumed the day's haul. Villagers 
did not begrudge them their booty, for 
they believe that the merrier the beriki 
party, the richer the harvest will be. 

The following year, in search of stili 
more celebrations of tlie death of vsdr.ter. '- 

Playing the king, an Orubad youth gives 
imperious orders during an ancient 
Azerbaijan festival. 

In northern Moldova. Katjusha, the 
revered goddess of the Malanka festival, 
is revealed as a male prankster. 

traveled to northern Moldova to visit the 
indigenous mountain cultures of the 
Carpathians. I arrived at Klokushna at the 
time of their New Year's celebration, 
when pranksters in black sheepskin 
masks stopped my car as I entered the 
village. They demanded a toll to enter; we 
eventually agreed upon some of my 
photographs. The impudent supernatural 
characters are called nioshi, the protectors 
of the festival. Once inside Klokushna, I 
found that the traditional mummer's play 
called Malanka was being performed at 
the door of every house, after which 
everyone exchanged best wishes for the 
New Year. 

Here the motif of winter's death and 
the birth of spring is expressed by the 
murder and resurrection of a beautiful girl 
named Katjusha. She wears a face veil, 
disguising the fact that the lovely young 
woman is actually played by a young 
man. Katjusha stands in the center of a 
circle of twelve wanior kings all decked 
out in tall hats adorned with colorful 
ribbons and artificial flowers, silver foil 
belts, magnificent epaulets, and swords. 
When one makes a pass at her, she 
rebuffs him bluntly; he flies into a rage 
and murders her. When the crowd 
rebukes the king for his foul deed, the 
guiltless girl returns to life. One of the 
moshi then goads the onlookers into 

contributing gifts for the victim, which he 
gathers into a bag. At this point, Katjusha 
asks him for a cigarette from among the 
goodies; when she puts aside her veil to 
light it, the audience gasps in mock 
surprise as they glimpse the trickster's 
masculine face. 

My last stop was in the old Azerbaijan 
town of Ordubad, in the Muslim area 
south of Georgia and above b-an, where 
another ancient substitution drama is still 
played out. These villagers celebrate the 
displacement of winter by enacting the 
replacement of their khan (king) with a 
simple youth for the duration of the 
festival. On their holiday of Khan-khan 
ojunu (playing the mler), the traditional 
drama takes place in the medieval town 
square, near a mosque and under a 
gigantic chinar tree. 

Prior to ascending his throne beneath 
the ancient tree, the khan and his retinue 
parade through the town, followed by 
frolicking children and accompanied by 
musicians. When the khan finally mounts 
his seat of power, people try to distract 
him with riddles and loaded questions. 
However, he remains regally aloof, 
answering all questions through his vizier 
and advisers, for he may not smile or 
break character. 

Supplicants ask that their neighbors be 
severely punished for supposed crimes 
such as chicken stealing. "Chop his head 
off," the vizier says, relaying the khan's 
harsh sentence. But an advocate for the 
alleged poultry pilferer manages to soften 
the penalty, which is reduced to singing a 
song and dancing. Soon, everyone is 
doing the same. When my turn comes, I 
ask a royal favor. "Most illustrious and 
just Khan, please permit me to 
photograph you and your brilliant 
retinue." An unsmiling twitch of the 
eyebrows, a slight nod to the executioner, 
and the latter raises his whip, but I did get 
my pictures. 

Like the king, the snow queen, Quidili, 
and Winter itself, the ancient connections 
of Slavic, Caipathian, and Caucasian 
countryfolk with the land's cycle are not 
dead at all, but are reborn every year. D 

38 Natural History 1/93 

^ ^s^% 

It's time for a change to Gallo. 


r\ ' 

Shellfish bouillabaisse with cilantro. 
©E. &J. Gallo Winery, Modesto, CA. 



Immature spotted hyenas lounge about the clan 's communal den. 

Joe McDonald 

Growing Up in the Clan 

In spotted hyena society, nothing beats a mother 's influence 

.■,*'■;;.„■ Ji?;J 

by Laura Smale and Kay E. Holekamp 

Sleepy and cramped in our four-wheel- 
drive vehicle, we watch the rising sun 
paint the morning clouds with streaks of 
red and gold. A few yards away from us, 
seven adult hyenas, all females, doze 
peacefully near their clan's communal 
den. As the females rest, nine cubs are 
busily occupied around them. Two small 
cubs, whose first spots are just beginning 
to appear through their black infant coats, 
are nursing. Four older cubs sniff a leopard 
tortoise that has discreedy withdrawn into 
its shell. Two play tug of war with a vul- 
ture feather at the den entrance, while an- 
other quietly chews on a gazelle horn. 

This tranquil dawn scene in Kenya's 
Masai Mara National Reserve is shattered 
suddenly as all the adult females leap to 
their feet and stare intently toward the 
west. Their abrupt movements send the 
smaller cubs dashing into the den hole. 
Now, from behind the bushes, the object of 
their attention appears. It is another adult 
female, known to us as Cochise, and in her 
massive jaws, she is gently holding a tiny 
black hyena cub. 

The baby swings limply as Cochise ap- 
proaches. As the adult females rush to- 
ward her, Cochise sets her black cub on 
the ground and crouches over it protec- 
tively. The other hyenas, their manes and 
tails bristUng with excitement, then sur- 
round Cochise, sniff her, and groan over 
the unfamiliar infant. With her forelegs 
bent back beneath her body and her baby 
cowering under her, Cochise crawls to- 
ward the den hole, snapping at a youngster 
that pokes with excessive zeal at her off- 

When she reaches the den, her cub scut- 
des out from under her and vanishes into 
the hole, undoubtedly overwhelmed by its 
sudden arrival at this unfamiliar place oc- 
cupied by so many strangers. Almost im- 
mediately, Cochise leaves the area; return- 
ing twenty minutes later with another tiny 
cub, she once again creates an uproar of 
excitement and curiosity. Only when the 
other hyenas calm down does Cochise call 
her two cubs out of the den with a gen:ie 
groan and begin to nurse them. 





From our vehicle, we have been video- 
taping the arrival of these cubs, which we 
name Sioux (the first arrival) and 
Cheyenne. Videotaping is one of the tech- 
niques we have been using for the past 
four and a half years in an effort to under- 
stand the development of behavior pat- 
terns that shape the complex social system 
of spotted hyenas. Our fieldwork, con- 
ducted in collaboration with Laurence 
Frank, has focused on the clan to which 
Sioux and Cheyenne have just been intro- 
duced. This tightknit group of some sixty- 
four hyenas includes twenty-one adult fe- 
males and their offspring and twelve adult 
males. All males over the age of five are 
immigrants from other clans, for while fe- 
male spotted hyenas generally spend their 
entire lives in the same clan, males emi- 

44 Natural History 1/93 

grate when they are between two and five 
years old. 

The early morning events we have just 
witnessed represent a major turning point 
in the lives of these month-old cubs, which 
until now have spent all their short lives at 
the secluded den where they were bom. 
There, their social world was small and 
simple, consisting of just their mother and 
themselves. In the weeks and months to 
come, we will watch closely as the little 
cubs progress through the various stages 
of hyena development and become inte- 
grated into the clan. 

Spotted hyenas are gregarious carni- 
vores found in many different types of 
sub-Saharan habitats, including deserts, 
forests, savannas, and beaches. They live 
in highly structured clans, in which each 

. n Br i( e roleman I 

A female cub, left, known as Sioux to the authors, leans against 
her mother, Cochise, to take a nap, revealing malelike genitalia. 
A mother carries her four-week-old cub, below, to meet the rest 
of the clan at the communal den. As two cubs nurse, below left, 
the dominant one gets the best spot, snug against its mother's 
belly, forcing its sibling to reach around it. 

Robert Caputo 

member holds a social rank. A hyena's 
rank has a profound influence on many as- 
pects of its life, the most important of 
which is its ability to compete for food. 
After running down a large antelope, for 
instance, spotted hyenas often feed in a 
frenzied free-for-all, each individual try- 
ing to get as much food for itself as pos- 
sible, often by attacking its clanmates and 
attempting to drive them away from the 

But even amid a ravenous mob of thirty 
hyenas feeding on a fresh kill, matters are 
not as chaotic as they might seem: each 
hyena only attacks clanmates ranked 
lower than itself. As with many other ani- 
mals, the hyenas' social system is struc- 
tured around a rigid hnear dominance hi- 
erarchy. However, unlike hierarchies 
found in most other species, the social 
rank of a spotted hyena in its natal clan is 
strongly influenced by its mother's posi- 
tion in the hierarchy and not by its size or 
its fighting abiMty. The only other species 
in which "inheritance" of maternal rank 
has been documented are some Old World 
primates, such as baboons, vervets, and 
macaques. Another unusual feature of the 
hyenas' social hierarchy is that the adult 

females normally outrank all adult males. 

As they grow up in the clan, young hye- 
nas face the task of working their way into 
this complex social system, learning to 
defer to hyenas from higher-ranking ma- 
trihnes and to challenge those from lower- 
ranking matrilines. Sioux and Cheyenne, 
for example, must establish rank relation- 
ships with each of the other sixty-four 
members of the clan. One of the goals of 
our research has been to find out when and 
how a small hyena cub forms these rela- 
tionships, and how the process differs for 
young males and females. 

Our days in the field generally include 
several hours around dawn and dusk sit- 
ting in a parked vehicle, from which we 
observe and record the hyenas' behavior. 
Paralleling our work is a series of ongoing 
studies of captive hyenas at the University 
of California at Berkeley, conducted by 
Stephen Glickman, Laurence Frank, and 
their collaborators. Our hope is that the 
studies of both the captive and free-hving 
animals will reveal the relative influences 
of hormonal and social factors on the de- 
velopment of social behavior of spotted 
hyenas, starting at birth. 

After a 1 10-day pregnancy, which may 

Born to Kill 

by Laurence G. Frank and Stephen E. Glickman 

In wild spotted hyena society, the first 
few weeks of life are intensely private. The 
female gives birth, usually to twins, at the 
mouth of an abandoned aardvark burrow, 
and the newborns crawl into the under- 
ground system, where they are safe from 
predators. Even the mother is too large to 
enter. The cubs remain in this den for sev- 
eral weeks, only coming to the entrance to 

One of us, Frank, first began studying 
spotted hyenas in Kenya in 1979. Through- 
out the early years of that fieldwork, a puz- 
zle arose: zoo data showed clearly that most 
spotted hyena litters are bom as twins, but in 
Kenya, by the time the mother moved her 
cubs from the natal burrow to the clan's 
communal den (generally the first chance 
for anyone to see the cubs), about half the 
litters had been reduced to a single cub. 

Because some of the surviving infants ap- 
peared emaciated, their backs covered with 
small scabs and wounds, an early hypodie- 
sis was that some sort of mange might be 
killing off the others. Over the years, how- 
ever, other observations complicated the 
issue: of the litters that did survive as twins, 
nearly all were brother-sister pairs. Why 
were there so few same-sex pairs? Could 
mange possibly be responsible for this sort 
of pattern? 

Solving this puzzle required being there 
at the very beginning of hyena life. Foitu- 
nately, facilities at the University of Califor- 
nia at Berkeley made this possible. In 1984, 
we established a captive colony of spotted 
hyenas to study the hormonal processes that 
produce the highly aggressive and extraor- 

dinarily masculine females for which this 
species is well known. (The female spotted 
hyena has an erectile clitoris the size and 
shape of the male's penis, through which 
she mates and gives birth, and a "pseudo- 
scromm" where the vulva should be.) In the 
course of our work on hormones, we have 
discovered that the spotted hyena's arrival 
in the world is not only a very private affair; 
it is also strikingly violent. 

The spotted hyena's 110-day gestation 
period is substantially longer than that of 
other hyena species. As a result, infants are 
bom at an advanced stage of development, 
with fully erupted front teeth, open eyes, 
and the ability to move around much more 
vigorously than other newborn carnivores. 
When our captive females began to breed in 
1987, we were astounded to observe the 
consequences of this advanced develop- 

Our first twins were born to Di, our 
biggest female. The infants were delivered 
approximately one hour apart, and the 
mother licked off their amniotic sacs imme- 
diately. (In our Berkeley study, mother and 
offspring are kept together in one lai-ge pen; 
there is no underground den.) Within min- 
utes of the second infant's birth, the first- 
bom attacked it, fastening its sharp front 
teeth into the skin of the younger cub's back 
and shaking violently, displaying the same 
"bite-shake" attack on the shoulders that 
adult hyenas use on one another. 

In another litter, the first attack occurred 
even before the second cub was free of its 
amniotic sac. The second soon started to 
fight back, and intense fighting continued 

Aclou l< >oL ill the shoulder of the cub in llicjorcgroiinil leveals marks 
strongly suggesting an attack by its sibling. 

throughout the first two or three days of life. 
Our captive mothers often paid little atten- 
tion; in the wild, of course, the fighting oc- 
curs in the depth of the buirow, where she 
cannot intervene. In both litters, one cub 
eventually emerged as dominant over the 
other, and we soon reaUzed that what we 
had called mange was actually extensive 
scarring on the back. 

Once established, the dominance rela- 
tionship is stable, and fighting between sib- 
lings decreases rapidly. What happens next 
depends on the sex of the cubs. When the 
cubs are of opposite sex, both usually sur- 
vive, although the dominant one grows 
faster and always has precedence at the teat. 

In the wild, however, when both new- 
boms are of the same sex, the fighting ap- 
parently continues until one dies. Two wild- 
bom litters that we hand reared illustrate the 
process. The first Utter consisted of two sis- 
ters. Rabbit and Owl, which were about one 
week old when we found them at their natal 
den outside the Mara Reserve. Rabbit was 
half the weight of Owl, extremely emaci- 
ated, and close to death. She bore a deep, 
badly infected wound on the shoulder, the 
result of Owl's incessant attacks. In the sec- 
ond instance, we found Tumo and Talek, a 
pair of males, when they were two or diree 
days old. Talek, larger and dominant, would 
refuse the botde we offered until he had at- 
tacked his brother. In each hand-reared case 
the smaller twin did fine. In same-sex litters 
in the wild, however, we beUeve that death 
is ultimately due to starvation, as the domi- 
nant is able to prevent the subordinate from 
leaving the den entrance to nurse. In our 
colony, in the absence of a buirow, one sib- 
ling still becomes dominant, but both pros- 
per, regardless of their sexes. 

Our studies of hyena hormonal develop- 
ment, carried out in collaboration with 
Berkeley endocrinologist Paul Licht, have 
shown that the period of siblicidal fighting 
coincides with a period in which infants of 
both sexes produce high levels of androgens 
(male hormones). The masculinized 
anatomy and behavior of female hyenas ap- 
pear to be the result of a complex process by 
which androstenedione, a hormone pro- 
duced by the ovaries and normally a precur- 
sor to estrogen, is converted to testosterone 
in the placenta. The developing embryos are 
bathed in exceptional quantities of testos- 
terone, and after biith, both male and female 
cubs continue to produce their own male 
hormones. Testosterone has been associated 
with aggression in many species, and it may 
well have a role in the evolution and main- 
tenance of intense neonatal fighting in spot- 
ted hyenas. 

This sort of Cain and Abel aggression is 
well known among eagles and many large 

46 Natural History 1/93 

fish-eating birds, such as herons, egrets, and 
boobies, but among mammals, only domes- 
tic pigs are known to engage in neonatal 
fighting. The ecological and evolutionary 
explanations that seem to explain bird sibli- 
cide, which appears to be tied to variable 
food resources, do not explain the hyenas' 
behavior, for in the Masai Mara — where 
mixed-sex twins regularly survive — food 
would not seem to be a limiting factor. 
Many basic questions remain to be an- 
swered. Why is the fighting usually fatal 
when both infants are the same sex but not if 
they are opposite sexes? What does the win- 
ner gain that offsets the evolutionary cost of 
killing its closest relative? Why does the 
mother tolerate the loss of nearly 25 percent 
of her reproductive output? Is there any way 
a mother could manipulate the outcome of 
the fighting in the den to influence the sex of 
the surviving offspring? 

And why did neonatal fighting evolve in 
the first place? One possible answer has to 
do with the spotted hyena's transition from a 
solitary scavenger, like the world's two 
other existing hyena species, to a highly so- 
cial animal. With the evolution of group 
hunting came the fierce feeding competi- 
tions for which spotted hyenas are famous. 
Under these circumstances, any adapta- 
tion — such as aggressiveness — that in- 
creased a mother's ability to insure her cubs 
access to a share of the carcass would be 
highly advantageous. Natural selection for 
female aggression may have favored devel- 
opment of prenatal androgens and also, as 
an unavoidable developmental side effect, 
masculinized genitalia. Neonatal fighting 
may well have been a similar side effect of 
the same process. Once early fighting be- 
came important, however, traits required to 
win the fights — mobility, pugnaciousness, 
sharp teeth, and large size at birth — would 
have been selected for in their own right. 

Whatever the answers to these questions, 
selection to win an often mortal battle at 
birth has been a powerful evolutionary force 
in the spotted hyena. It may also exact a 
high cost from the mother hyenas, who 
must give birth to their large babies through 
an unusually small organ, the penislike cli- 
toris. In captivity, first-time mothers experi- 
ence very long labor and a high rate of birth 
complications. This may help explain why, 
in the wild, females often disappear, and are 
presumed dead, about the time they would 
be giving birth for the first time. Stretching 
and tearing of the clitoris during the first 
birth, however, do insure that subsequent 
births are much easier for those females that 
survive and go on to produce more of the 
species' remarkably precocial infants, 
whose fifst actions are not the least bit in- 

occur during any season, a female spotted 
hyena gives birth to one or two coal black 
infants, each weighing about two pounds. 
In the wild, the female selects an isolated 
old aardvark den, sometimes modified by 
warthogs, in which to shelter her cubs. 
The natal den, like the communal den, has 
a narrow opening too small for an adult 
hyena to enter. These dens can either be 
short (about nine feet long) with a single 
entrance or extensive, mazelike structures 
with many entrances. In general, natal 
dens are smaller and simpler than commu- 
nal dens. 

We get our first look at the cubs when 
they emerge at about ten days of age. The 
wild-bom pairs we have seen are usually 
one male and one female. In the captive 
setting at Berkeley, Glickman and Frank 
have monitored the birth process, as well 
as the events occurring immediately after- 
ward, and have observed that a cub's ini- 
tial, and most brutal, rank-related en- 
counter begins shortly after birth, when it 
may be attacked or even killed by its litter- 
mate (see sidebar at left). 

In the wild, presumably as a result of in- 
tense fighting within the natal den, rank re- 
lations between siblings have invariably 
been settled by the time the mother brings 
her cubs to the communal den. For ex- 
ample, Sioux, who turned out to be fe- 
male, clearly dominated Cheyenne, a 
male, on the day they were introduced to 
the clan. We could tell the brother and sis- 
ter apart because Cheyenne was smaller 
and was scarred across his back and shoul- 
ders. As Sioux settled against her mother's 
warm belly to nurse, Cheyenne was left to 
squirm his way awkwardly between 
Cochise's hind legs to reach her second 
nipple. As further evidence of her domi- 
nance, Sioux stopped her vigorous nursing 
after several minutes and chased her 
brother into the den hole, from where we 
could hear his high-pitched squeals. 

During a cub's six- or seven-month stay 
at the communal den, its social world ex- 
pands to include not only its group of 
peers but also the adult and adolescent 
hyenas that pay frequent visits to the den. 

During their first weeks there, cubs appear 
above ground only to nurse, but soon they 
begin to make tentative explorations of the 
new world around them. At this stage, the 
small, black infants are timid, tucking 
their tails and bobbing their heads submis- 
sively in response to virtually everything 
that moves, including a plant waving in 
the wind, a guinea fowl wandering by, or 
the twitching ear of a sleeping hyena. 
Anything unusual, even the fluttering of a 
small bird, sends them racing back to the 
security of their mother's side. Before 
long, however, the cubs become bolder 
and much more likely to chew the offend- 
ing plant or chase the guinea fowl than flee 
from it. Every small cub also devotes con- 
siderable time to investigating the various 
body odors of the other hyenas it meets 
and presenting itself to be sniffed by them 
in turn. 

At the communal den, cubs have littie 
to fight over, since they nurse frequently 
and have access to solid food only on the 
rare occasions when an adult female at- 
tempts to provision her cubs. Conse- 
quentiy, we have few opportunities to dis- 
cern rank relationships among cubs that 
are not sibUngs. Curious to know whether 
a hierarchy exists among cubs at the com- 
munal den, we decided to introduce an ob- 
ject that might eUcit competition. One day 
we stole a Cape buffalo leg from a group 
of fat, sleepy lions and presented it to thir- 
teen young hyena cubs (two to four 
months old) at the communal den. We 
chose an afternoon when no older hyenas 
were at the den to influence the outcome 
of our little experiment. Under fliese con- 
ditions, the cubs behaved just like adult 
hyenas; that is, they squabbled vigorously 
in their attempts to displace one another 
from the food. In the process, to our com- 
plete surprise, they revealed that tiiey had 
in fact formed their own miniature domi- 
nance hierarchy but that this hierarchy had 
nothing to do with their sex, relative size, 
age, or their mothers' social rank. Sraa'il 
cubs sometimes dominated big ones, and 
cubs from low-ranking lineages coiild 
dominate cubs from higher-rariMng fan-d- 


R. D. Estes; Photo Researchers, Inc. 

Spotted hyenas are excellent hunters, as well as accomplished 
scavengers and usurpers. The hyenas below may be feeding on a 
lion kill, since an adult giraffe generally would be too much for 
them to bring down. Right: an adult hyena, flanked by two eager 
jackals, dines on a flamingo. 

Clam Haagner; Anthony Bannister Photo Library 

lies. For example. Ginger, the relatively 
aggressive and fearless daughter of the 
clan's lowest-ranking female, was able to 
establish a position for herself at the top of 
the cubs' hierarchy. Our observations led 
us to think that, at this time of life, a cub's 
position may depend on its personality, 
particularly on the balance between fear- 
futaess and aggressiveness. 

The early dominance relationships we 
saw that day were not enduring, however. 
During the subsequent months, cubs' 
ranks relative to peers steadily and sys- 
tematically changed. By the time the cubs 
reached eight months of age, the rank 
order among them paralleled almost per- 
fectly that of their mothers. 

How does this transformation in peer 
rank relations occur? Thousands of hours 
of watching youngsters as they grow up in 
our study clan have suggested various 
mechanisms by which cubs may "inherit" 
their mothers' social ranks. Cubs have 
many opportunities to observe high-rank- 
ing mothers harassing and attacking low- 
ranking mothers, for example, and might 
learn something about the social hierarchy 
by observing these interactions. Mother 
hyenas at the den occasionally intervene 

when their young cubs engage in disputes 
with their peers, high-ranking mothers 
doing so more frequently and more ag- 
gressively than low-ranking ones. For ex- 
ample, if the mother from the higher-rank- 
ing lineage is present when two cubs 
bicker over a bone or play object, she 
might wave her head threateningly, a ges- 
ture sufficient to discourage her cub's op- 
ponent, hi addition, high-ranking mothers 
sometimes bring meaty bones or chunks 
of ungulate skin to the den for their cubs 
and then often intervene to make sure their 
youngsters maintain possession of the pre- 
cious item. These provisioning events are 
rare but may play a key role in the reorder- 
ing of cubs' relative ranks within their peer 

When cubs are seven to eight months 
old, they begin to leave the relative safety 
of the communal den to travel throughout 
the clan's twenty-five-square-mile home 
range. At this point many cubs begin to 
spend their days sleeping in bushes. Some 
cubs, however, go through a period in 
which they seek daytime shelter in one or 
more "transitional" dens located through- 
out the clan's home range. Although most 
are still nursing when they leave the com- 

munal den, young hyenas begin to venture 
into the frenzied feeding competition that 
surrounds the carcasses of freshly killed 
ungulates. This competition, central to 
hyena social biology, involves dramatic 
displays of feeding speed and high levels 
of aggression among clan members. In 
one instance, we watched a group of 
twenty-two hyenas reduce the entire car- 

48 Natural History 1/93 

cass of a topi (a 300-pound antelope) to a 
few scattered bones in only thirteen min- 
utes. When youngsters first encounter this 
challenge, they are still slow and clumsy 
feeders. They have not yet developed the 
enormous skull bones and powerful mus- 
culature that enable adult hyenas to tear 
off huge chunks of meat and crunch up 
bones as though they were potato chips. 

At these first ungulate kills, maternal in- 
tervention takes on a new importance. 
When cubs join the competition around a 
carcass, their mothers are often nith them, 
acting on their behalf. Once, at a topi kill, 
we saw nine-month-old Whitey chewing 
on a leg joint abut 200 feet from the main 
carcass, where his mother. LG, was feed- 
ing with twenty-one other hyenas. Eighth 

Notes, an adult immigrant male, sneaked 
up. stole Whitey "s topi leg, and ran off 
with it. Despite her involvement in the 
chaotically feeding crowd. LG noticed the 
theft. She burst out of the mob of blood- 
stained hyenas around the carcass, chased 
Eighth Notes 500 feet, and tackled him. 
forcing him to drop the topi leg. LC 
picked up the leg, trotted back to >Miite;.. 

and dropped it in front of him, then re- 
turned to the fray around the carcass. 

As a rule, such confrontations with 
adult males are unusual, for as immi- 
grants, males generally defer to all hyenas 
bom in the clan, even to cubs that have not 
yet left the communal den. Cubs' rank-re- 
lated interactions with adult females are 
somewhat more compUcated. Rank may 
be inherited, but older females don't sim- 

ply move aside to make room for the off- 
spring of higher-ranking females; the cubs 
must assert themselves. This they begin to 
do about the time they first feed at ungu- 
late kills, challenging adult females much 
larger than themselves, as long, that is, as 
their opponents belong to lower-ranking 
matrilines. In competition over access to a 
wildebeest carcass, for example, an eight- 
month-old female named Baldy attacked 

OT, an adult female ranked below Baldy's 
mother. OT, three times larger than her at- 
tacker, initially parried Baldy's attack and 
tried to regain access to the carcass, but 
Baldy persisted until OT backed off with 
her tail between her legs. 

Baldy defeated the older animal single- 
handedly, but spotted hyena cubs fre- 
quently join, and are joined by, other hye- 
nas in attacks against clanmates of lower 

50 Natural History 1/93 

Juvenile spotted hyenas at play, left. While one cub (its ears 
forward in an aggressive, dominant position) attempts to mount 
a second, a third (its ears pressed back in a submissive 
position) playfully chews on the muzzle of the first. A four- 
month-old cub rubs against a sleeping adult, below, probably 
getting both a sense of well-being and a good dose of the clan 's 
signature smell in the process. 

David Madison; Bruce Coleman, Inc. 

maternal rank. Coalitions may reinforce a 
cub in its challenges until lower-ranking 
adults learn to defer to the youngster even 
when it acts alone. 

By eighteen months of age, young fe- 
males have worked their way into the adult 
female hierarchy, fitting in immediately 
below their mothers' position and winning 
all their fights against adult females of 
lower maternal rank. Within a matriline. 

rank shifts over time (younger animals 
outranking their older siblings), but out- 
side the matriline, females retain their so- 
cial ranks for the rest of their lives, which 
may be twenty years in the wild. 

Young males also work their way into 
the adult hierarchy, but the outcome of 
their efforts is somewhat less certain. 
■ Often they succeed in dominating adult fe- 
males from lower-ranking matrilines. 
Once, for example, we watched as DJ, the 
clan's third-ranking female, brought a 
zebra leg to the den for her cub, only to be 
intercepted by Sherlock, the six-month- 
old son of the second-ranking female. 
Sherlock grabbed one end of the zebra leg 
and tugged with all his might. Since DJ 
was almost four times his size, she easily 
won the tug of war. But hyenas ai'C extra- 
ordinai-ily persistent, and Sherlock then 
went directly after DJ, assuming the full- 
blown attack posture, with his head up, 
ears forward, and tail bristled. Both ani- 
mals ended up on their hind legs, with DJ 
pairying defensively against Sherlock's 
attack. Eventually she backed away, and 
Sherlock made off with the zebra leg. 

Many other times, however, these 
young males must accept a position in the 

hierarchy lower than thek mother's rank 
would suggest. By eighteen months of 
age, for instance, they win only about half 
of their fights with adult females from 
lower-ranking matrilines. The status 
young males attain during this period re- 
mains unchanged as long as they remain in 
their natal clans. But eventually, the males 
go off on their own, and the minute the 
young male hyena leaves his natal clan, 
his social status plummets. 

Young males dispersing to the home 
range of a new and unfamiliar- clan revert 
to a'cublike pattern, attempting to appease 
everything that moves. Neighboring clans 
are often hostile toward one another, and 
because outsiders are not always wel- 
come, the young male must somehow 
break through this bairier. During an en- 
counter with an adult male in unfamiliar 
tenitory, the new immigrant slinks towai'd 
the other male and crouches before him 
with his head twisted and lowered, his ears 
plastered back against his head, and his 
lips curled in a submissive grin more ex- 
aggerated than any we have seen in any 
other context. Usually he is simply ig- 
nored by the animal he is trying to ap- 
pease, but sometimes he is chased all the 


Jeremy Woodhouse 

Spotted hyenas inhabit many different habitats of siib-Saharan Africa, 
including Botswana 's Okavango Swamp, below. Right: Wherever they 
are, hyenas greet fellow clanmates by sniffing each other's genitals, a 
"handshake " that may last several minutes. 

Frans Lanting; Minden Pictures 

way back to the edge of the new clan's ter- 
ritory. Often the young male will return 
again and again, until his presence in the 
new clan is accepted. Sometimes, how- 
ever, males give up and move on, explor- 
ing several clans over a period of several 
months before finding one to join. 

A young male in a new clan will be 
subordinate to all the adult females he en- 
counters, as well as to all immigrant males 
that joined before he did and to all the 
youngsters — male and female — bom in 
the clan. In sum, when a male leaves his 
natal group, he gives up all of the power 
and privileges associated with his 
birthiight. Over time, as he becomes one 
of the senior immigrants, he will be able to 
dominate more recent immigrant males, 

but he will remain a second-class citizen 
indefinitely, subordinate to members of 
the natal clan. 

Why then do males leave home? Al- 
though we don't yet know the answer with 
absolute certainty, much of our current 
fieldwork is devoted to addressing this and 
other questions of dispersal. We do know 
that males leave their natal clans voluntar- 
ily, without any aggressive prompting 
from other clan members. We believe that 
their departure must have to do with their 
search for females that will accept them as 
suitors. After reaching reproductive matu- 
rity (at about twenty-four months of age) 
but before they emigrate, males bom in 
our clan often attempt to court female 
clanmates. During this courtship, natal 

males may threaten and chase away any 
immigrant males that also attempt to court 
sexually attractive females, but the fe- 
males don't appear to take the courtship 
gestures of natal males seriously. We sus- 
pect that females prefer to mate with im- 
migrant males — a pattem of female choice 
that could have evolved to minimize the 
deleterious effects of inbreeding. 

Our hope is that as we track more and 
more of "our boys" in their joumeys away 
from home, we will gradually come to un- 
derstand better the reasons for their move- 
ments. One day, we hope to be able to re- 
port that, like their sisters at home, they 
too are fully accepted, reproductively suc- 
cessful members of hyena clans of the 
Masai Mara. D 



IliiBr^iiiiliii ' I'l^ ' 

Landing near its nest on Enderby 
Island, a brown skua greets its mate 
by raising its wings. 



When a bulky skua hunts rabbits, 
the bird undergoes a startling 

Text and photographs 
by Fred Bruemmer 

Skuas are easy to hate. Large, gull-like 
predators, they kill fellow seagoing birds 
such as prions and petrels, rob penguin 
nests and gulp down fluffy chicks, bully 
gannets and terns into disgorging hard- 
won food, and divebomb humans with 
precision, showering them with excrement 
and sometimes knocking them down. 
Botanist Mary Gillham, who visited sub- 
antarctic Macquarie Island in 1960, wrote 
lovingly about its penguins, then turned a 
hostile gaze upon the skuas: "The foulest 
of plunderers," she called them, "the rud- 
est of the rude." 

The skua is bipolar; it is the only bird 
that breeds both in the Arctic and Antarc- 
tic. Until the 1900s, the northern or great 
skua (which the Scots call a bonxie, a 
name related to the Old Norse word for an 
untidy, dumpy woman) nested only on 
southern Iceland and on the Faroe and 
Shetland islands, and even there it was 
rare. Hard-up crofters raided skua nests, 
taking eggs early in the season and fat 
chicks just before they fledged. British 
naturalist Thomas Pennant reported tliai if 
a parent skua divebombed, the nest rob- 
bers "hold a knife erect over their head? 
on which the Skua will transfix itself." A; 

Descendants of animals brought to the island to provision 
ships, feral rabbits, below, feed on Enderby at dusk. A bird 
adopts the stalking posture peculiar to skuas hunting young 
rabbits on foot, top right. After a successful hunt, a skua pair 
tears off small bits of prey, middle, which their chick takes from 
the parent's beak, bottom. 

the end of the 1800s, only a few hundred 
great skuas survived. 

Since then, when preservation mea- 
sures were sporadically initiated, the skuas 
not only have increased but also spread: to 
the Orkneys in 1914, to the Scottish main- 
land in 1950, to Spitsbergen in 1970, and 
to the arctic island of Jan Mayen in 1984. 
Robert W. Fumess, author of 77?^ Skuas, 
estimates their present numbers at about 
12,500 pairs. 

Southern clan members are the Chilean 
skua, which breeds along the coasts of 
Chile and Argentina; the Falkland skua, 
smallest of the skua races; the subantarctic 
brown skua; and the south polar skua, 
which breeds on the fringes of Antarctica 
and on nearby islands. 

Whether north or south, skuas are noto- 
riously belligerent, "the fiercest of 
seabirds in defending their young," wrote 
Canadian biologist William J. Maher. The 
exception is the brown skua on Enderby, 
one of the Auckland Islands between New 
Zealand and Antairtica, which I visited 
for three months in the 1980s. Like other 
skuas, brown skuas are expert pirates, but 
toward humans, they are quite pleasant 
and mild mannered. They tolerated me on 
their territories with little complaint and 
were not upset when 1 came close to their 
nests and, later, to their chicks. Some of 
the Enderby Island skuas also have a pe- 
culiar specialty: they hunt young feral rab- 
bits, on foot in the forest. 

About one hundred pairs of brown 
skuas nest in the Auckland Islands, about 
forty of them on food-rich Enderby, the 
northernmost island of the group, 300 
miles south of New Zealand. Six miles 
long and three miles wide, Enderby is lush 
and verdant. A dense forest of gnailed rata 
trees, a species of New Zealand hardwood, 
covers about half the island, hemmed by 
thickets of storm-sculptured myrsine and 
cassinia bushes. Rimming the island are 
deep green meadows. These areas were 
once covered with hummocks and tussock 
grasses, which were cut down and con- 
verted into lawn-smooth sward by En- 
derby's lai-ge population of rabbits. 

The Auckland Islands were discovered 

in 1806 by Abraham Bristow, a British 
whaler bound for London from Australia. 
Soon, sealing gangs from several nations 
came to the islands to kill the numerous 
and valuable fur seals and the less numer- 
ous and less valuable sea lions. (The seal- 
ers were a rough lot. Lord George Camp- 
bell of Britain's Challenger expedition 
met a shipful of them in 1874 and re- 
marked dryly: "Most of the crew look as if 
they had left their counti-y for their coun- 
try's good.") 

The sealers, and later, explorers and 
New Zealand government ships, brought 
rabbits, goats, pigs, and cattle to the Auck- 
lands to provision future trips and feed 
castaways. Rabbits were introduced to En- 
derby Island in the 1 840s: those on the is- 
land now are of a French breed known as 
Argente de Champagne. In 1874, the New 
Zealand ship HMS Blanche visited En- 
derby and found it overrun with rabbits. 
During World War 11, the hunted German 
raider Erlangen refueled with rata wood in 
the Aucklands and then escaped to Chile. 
For some time after that. New Zealand 
coast watchers were stationed on the then 
uninhabited islands. They shot at least a 
thousand rabbits a year on Enderby, but 
the prolific animals remained abundant; 

some 4,000 adult rabbits now inhabit the 
island. Skuas are their only enemy. 

The New Zealand falcon, the Auck- 
lands' sole raptor, is rarely seen on En- 
derby and does not kill rabbits. No mam- 
malian carnivores live on the islands. The 
skuas are Enderby's main predator and 
also the main scavenger (with red-billed 
gulls and southern black-backed gulls as 
minor competitors). Skuas patrol the is- 
land's beaches and pick up anything ed- 
ible. They stand attentively near the is- 
land's large Hooker's sea lion rookery, 
where they eat placentas and feces. When 
sea lion pups suckle, skuas often stand 
nearby to peck up drops of spilled milk. 
They clean up around the Uving and they 
consume the dead. The skua's scientific 
name, Catharacta, means "purifier" or 

Many other island birds fear skuas, with 
good reason. The females, larger and 
heavier than the males, are big, powerful 
birds with a nearly five-foot wingspread 
and black, hooked bills. In New Zealand 
the red-billed gulls breed in open colonies, 
but in Enderby, they hide their nests under 
boulders and in caves to protect them from 
skuas. The flightless Auckland Island teal, 
a small duck, raises its young deep in the 

56 Natural History 1/93 

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dark rata forest and usually leads them to 
sea at night. The dainty Auckland Island 
shag, a kind of cormorant, nests on ex- 
tremely narrow ledges where skuas have 
trouble landing. Yet even there, shags are 
not safe, for skuas are shrewd and deter- 
mined. A skua will fly to the ledge, lock 
bills with a frantically jabbing shag, yank 
the bird off its nest and drop it. then rush in 
to grab an egg or chick. 

Skuas are opportunistic; they often ap- 
pear somnolent and lazy but are actually 
observant and astute. One day I washed 
my hair, and with my eyes full of suds and 
smarting. I groped for the soap, but it was 
gone. A skua had quietly walked up and 
filched it. Skuas also appraise sea lion be- 
havior. Greedy pups often drink far too 
much milk and later vomit. Skuas know 
the telltale signs of a pup in distress: they 
await the event and eat the upchucked cur- 
dled milk. Sea lions regularly ingest 
stones on the sea bottom near shore, swal- 
lowing anything from pea-sized pebbles to 
rocks the size of golf balls. Back on shore, 
amid much heaving and retching, they oc- 
casionally spew out these gastroliths to- 
gether with remnants of recent meals, wel- 
come food for eager skuas. 

Between thirty and fifty skuas, non- 
breeders and off-duty nesters. are usually 
in attendance at the Enderby sea lion rook- 
ery. I once watched sea mammal expert 
Martin Cawthom cut up a sea lion carcass 
to collect tissue samples and to determine, 
if possible, the cause of death. A horde of 
skuas clamored around him. One skua 
(weighing less than four pounds) bolted 
down a one-pound chunk of liver, then 
sneaked in for another helping. When 
Cawthom left, the skuas rushed to the car- 
cass. A brownish, vulturine mob, they 
tugged, ripped, and gorged. Such a car- 
cass, providing at least two hundred 
pounds of fat and meat, was certainly big 
enough for the whole group, yet the skuas 
spent more time fighting than feeding. 
They raised their wings in threat display, 
arched their necks, lowered their heads, 
and screamed. They fluttered up and 
hacked at newcomers. Two skuas faced 
each other, puffed out their chests like 

pouter pigeons, and bumped each other, 
then rushed back to the feast. Finally 
sated, they flew to a nearby brook, 
splashed, and washed, for they are very 
cleanly, then settled on the sward to doze 
and digest. 

As competitive as skuas are, even they, 
at times, must cooperate in order to eat. 
When skuas attack a heavy, immobile sea 
lion carcass, they brawl nearly constantly 
and chase and intimidate rivals. But faced 
with a smaller morsel that yields when 
pulled, yet is too big to be swallowed 
whole — a stretch of sea lion gut, for ex- 
ample — skuas are in a quandary. Alone, 
they cannot manipulate such a meal; un- 
like the talons of a raptor, which hold the 
food while the bird tears off bite-sized bits, 
the skua's flat, webbed feet are unsuited 
for pinning down and holding prey. In 
such a situation, an Enderby skua might 
drag a ten-foot piece of gut across the 
sand, then sit with its trophy and wait. If 
another skua approaches, the owner of the 
gut does not protest. Each bird grabs an 
end of the gut and pulls, tug-of-war fash- 
ion. Whichever bird tears off a piece small 
enough to be swallowed gulps it down 
while its partner waits. Slowly, the two 
skuas share the length of gut, their normal, 
agonistic behavior held in abeyance, since 
only cooperation makes the meal possible. 

Near its nest, the skua is fearless, "one 
of the boldest and most ferocious defend- 
ers of home and family in the avian 
world," according to American biologist 
Carl R. Eklund, who studied skuas for 
many years. On Gough Island in the South 
Adantic, Robert Fumess found that in Oc- 
tober skuas with newly laid eggs were re- 
laxed and unruffled when he came close, 
but one month later, when the eggs were 
hatching, the skuas were, as elsewhere, 
aggressive: "ti'aveling at upwards of 10 
metres [33 feet] per second," he wrote, 
"[they] hit hard and if that failed to drive 
me away... they would land on my head 
and start pecking vigorously if I failed to 
fend them off." Tlie Enderby slaias, how- 
ever, tolerate humans on their teixitories at 
all times. At first they were iruldly an- 
noyed, then casually indifferent. None of 

the twenty pairs I visited ever attacked in 
earnest with the knockdown blows skuas 
use elsewhere. 

Most skuas nest toward the forest edge, 
often in the lee of small myrsine bushes. I 
frequently visited one pair that nested near 
our camp. When I was some twenty yards 
away, the female on the nest would begin 
to cry, a harsh rasping call that escalated 
into strident yells as I came closer. The 
male, which stood guard nearby, would fly 
up, hover above me, then settle softly on 
my head and pluck tentatively at my 
woolen cap. If I sat down beside the fe- 
male and talked to her, she soon ceased her 
angry keening. 

At times I would stretch out my hand 
and stroke the brooding bird. She would 
look at me with interest, but no fear, and 
nibble at my sleeve. If I slid my hand be- 

neath her and pushed her gently off the 
nest, she protested with a couple of cries 
but did not otherwise resist. The nest was 
an untidy collection of grasses, lichens, 
mosses, and twigs. In a shallow depression 
in the vegetation lay two faintly brownish 
eggs blotched in tan and sienna. After my 
inspection, the female cooed, stood over 
the nest, fluffed her feathers, turned and 
arranged the eggs to her liking, and settled 
upon them with a shuffling motion. 

Meanwhile, the male would have re- 
turned to his guard post on a little knoll. 
From time to time, as if aware that he was 
remiss in his duties, he flew up, circled, 
approached from behind, and grabbed my 
anorak hood. Once, flapping his great 
wings with all his might, in his best Eagle 
and Ganymede imitation, he tried to carry 
me up and away. 

58 Natural History 1/93 

After a while, both birds ignored me. 
But they will not tolerate another of their 
kind. Skuas mate for life. The nest area is 
the focal point of their existence, where 
male and female meet again and mate after 
wandering separately during the southern 
winter. A patch of ground about a hundred 
feet across, and a much larger aerial space 
above it, is their exclusive realm, which 
they defend against all other skuas. A spe- 
cial loud, wild yodel means "strange skua 
in the vicinity." and the off-duty bird rises 
instantly to chase the intruder away from 
the territory. One reason for this intense 
antagonism, said Eklund, is because the 
"skua is its own [and Enderby's only] 
predator." They are not at all averse to eat- 
ing a neighbor's eggs or chicks. 

On Enderby, the female skua does most 
of the incubating, about three times as 

Skuas frequent the large Hooker's sea lion rookery on 
Enderby Island. Even in the midst of a windfall such as a sea 
lion carcass, the belligerent birds spend more time fighting 
over food than feeding, left. Oppoitimities for snacking 
abound at the rookeiy. A skua attends a sea lion mother and 
newborn pup. below, hoping to devour the afterbirth. 

much as does her mate, whose main duty 
is guarding their domain. If the female 
overstays her time on the nest, the male 
becomes broody and impatient. He walks 
to the female and "talks" to her in wheezy, 
urgent chirps. She usually ignores him, 
and he becomes even more insistent by 
nibbling her neck and, if even this elicits 
no response, tugging at her tail. Reluc- 
tantly, the female yields. The male imme- 
diately and eagerly settles on the eggs. She 
stands near him for a few minutes, then 
flies off to eat and bathe. 

I found twenty skua nests on Enderby 
and each held two eggs, yet later, all the 
skua pairs but one raised only a single 
chick. The female lays two eggs over a 
two- to three-day interval, but she begins 
to incubate after the first egg has been laid. 
As a result, the chicks usually hatch one or 
two days apart. The older chick, first to be 
fed and quick to grow, tyrannizes its sib- 
ling. The first chick is louder, quicker, 
stronger, and gets most of the food 
brought by the parents. It hacks and pecks 
the younger chick until the victim leaves 
the nest and wanders off. Unable to fend 
for itself, this chick may die of hunger and 
exposure or be eaten by neighbors or even 
a parent, a practice called cronism after the 

mythical Cronus, the Titan, who ate all but 
one of his children. 

Having rid itself of its rival, the remain- 
ing chick receives the parents" undivided 
attention and all the food they can supply. 
While one parent forages, the other guards 
the chick. At this time, skuas elsewhere 
are at their most aggressive, as battered 
chick-banding scientists have reported 
with some asperity. Bui the Enderby skuas 
remain complacent. I could approach and 
even hold their chicks; they sometimes 
yelled but never attacked. 

The skuas bring their chicks a wide 
range of foods, but the island specialty is 
rabbit. The adult rabbits are a smoky 
bluish gray in winter, reddish brown in 
summer. Skuas rarely bother the adults, 
and if they do. it is only from sheer devil- 
try. A skua skims across the sward, zeroes 
in on a peacefully nibbling rabbit, swoops 
down, and knocks it spinning. Despite 
such abuse, with no true enemies on the is- 
land, adult rabbits are quite unconcerned 
and come out at dusk or even in daytime to 
feed. But skuas do prey on the jet-black 
baby rabbits. The young are wary and skit- 
tish and spend neai'ly all their time in the 
forest, where the skuas go on foot to hur-, 
them. Stalking behavior appeal's to be iiv 

Its wings raised in a threat display, a skua 
that was too slow in gobbling up a rabbit 
defends its catch against rivals. 

nate in skuas, but on Enderby the victim 
and venue are unusual. Scientists with 
powerful flashlights have seen skuas stalk 
prions and petrels at night. Young birds do 
not watch the adults hunt, so presumably 
each bird acquires the technique by trial. 

The Enderby skuas normally are bulky 
in shape and shrill in tone. A skua on a 
rabbit hunt is transformed. Its feathers 
sleeked, a new, low and lean skua skulks 
through the forest. The moment it spots a 
baby rabbit, it freezes, presses itself to the 
ground, and studies its intended victim for 
several minutes. Then, using every bush, 
every unevenness of ground, the skua 
stalks the rabbit with finesse. If the rabbit 
eats, the skua rushes forward with quick, 
short steps. The instant the rabbit is alert, 
the skua stops. From about five feet away, 
the skua pounces, grabs the rabbit with its 
hooked bill, carries it from the forest onto 
the open sward where it cannot escape, 
and kills it with repeated blows. The bird 
then rips the rabbit open, eats the viscera, 
and grasping the carcass by the head, 
swallows it with a few convulsive gulps. 
When the skua returns to its territory, it 
disgorges the entire, limp carcass for its 

The parents greet each other with raised 
wings and loud calls. The downy chick 
cheeps, jumps up and down, flaps its tiny 
wings, and pecks the chest and neck of 
both parents. In response, the parents grab 
the rabbit carcass and pull. Whichever 
parent tears off a piece small enough to 
suit the chick feeds it to the begging 

Amply fed, the skua chicks grow 
rapidly. On Enderby, most chicks hatch in 
December By February, they have molted 
into black-brown plumage and are nearly 
as big as their parents. In another month 
they will fledge and be on their own. Im- 
mature skuas roam far, but when they are 
about five yeai-s old, most of them will 
come back to the island of their birth to se- 
lect a territory, to find a mate, and to raise 
the next generation. They will also cany 
on the peculiar island tradition, honing 
their rabbit-stalking skills in the rata 
forests of Enderby Island. D 

60 Natural History 1/93 



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Have Camera Will Travel 

by Richard M. Ketchum 

In a day when superb wildlife films are 
a regular occurrence on television, and the 
technological marvels of nature photogra- 
phy are scarcely noticed, Americans for- 
get the vicarious thrills they experienced 
in the twenties and thirties through the pi- 
oneering motion pictures of Martin and 
Osa Johnson. 

The husband and wife who were such 
preeminent figures in this field only a half 
century ago are all but forgotten today, and 
the films on which their reputafions were 
buOt survive largely in the vaults of muse- 
ums and libraries or in the dimming mem- 
ories of old-time moviegoers. So their 
story, told by Pascal and Eleanor Imper- 
ato, is as fresh as it is welcome. 

Pascal Imperato discovered the John- 
sons when, as a teen-ager, he stumbled 
onto one of Osa's books in the travel sec- 
tion of his local hbrary. Throughout high 
school, college, and medical school, his in- 
terest in the couple and in Africa grew, and 
a fellowship afforded an opportunity to 
visit East Africa during its colonial twi- 
light. Later, he and his wife, Eleanor, spent 

a great deal of time there, getting to know 
many of the places and people associated 
with the Johnsons. 

Motion pictures have the special quahty 
of transporting the viewer into another 
world, and in the case of the Johnsons' 
films, that world was equal parts mystery 
and terrifying reality. People who might 
never travel more than fifty miles from 
their hometown could sit in a shadowy 
theater — onlookers, enthralled by scenes 
from "darkest Africa" or "wildest Bor- 
neo," as the billboards called them — and 
even as their pulse rates chmbed higher in 
tune with the action, they could take com- 
fort in the knowledge that it was Osa John- 
son — not them — being charged by the rhi- 

This American couple discovered the 
secret of simultaneously entertaining and 
enlightening audiences by leading them 
through untracked jungles and up the tow- 
ering crests of mountains; revealing the 
customs of primitive tribes; and introduc- 
ing them to exotic birds, animals, and rep- 
tiles that were already beginning to vanish 

Martin Jolmson is seated on the floor between Jack and Channian 
London at a masquerade party. Solomon Islands. 1908. 

Jack London Collection, California Department of Parks and Recreation 

62 Natliral History 1/93 


before the onslaught of white hunters, 
poachers, and Western civihzation. The 
backdrops against which the action took 
place were some of the most remote lands 
on earth, and for a majority of Americans, 
whose opportunities for foreign travel 
were ahnost nil, the lure of those faraway 
places was just about irresistible. 

The rising popularity of the attractive 
young Kansas couple paralleled the story 
of entertainment in twentieth-century 
America, for they made skillful use of the 
new media technology developed in their 
lifetime. They began their career with il- 
lustrated lectures on the vaudeville stage, 
then progressed to silent fihns, radio, and 

They Married Adventure: The Wan- 
dering Lives of Martin and Osa John- 
son, by Pascal James Imperato and 
Eleanor M. Imperato. Rutgers University 
Press, $27.95; 298 pp., illus. 

talking pictures. In addition, they pub- 
Ushed numerous magazine articles and 
books. While satisfying their own craving 
for advenmre, they brought the fascinating 
and little-known world of wild animals 
and primirive peoples to Americans, 
whose own frontier had been tamed not so 
many years earlier. 

When Martin Johnson was born in 
1884, the Indians and great herds of bison 
were but recently gone from the Kansas 
prairies, replaced by the plow, the raikoad, 
and clusters of settlements. Whatever in- 
terest he might have had in formal educa- 
tion was stifled in a one-room schoolhouse 
packed with ninety pupils. A strict teacher 
and an exacting father drove him to run 
away from home regularly — a habit that 
might be said to have persisted for the rest 
of his life. 

Martin's first taste of advenmre came 
when he persuaded the famous novelist 
and outdoorsman Jack London and his 
wife, Charmian, to take him as a crew 


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To explore China is to have the sense of moving easily 
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SeaQuest offers three different itineraries in the Spring of 1993: "China & Far East", 
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Our China cruises are packaged as 18- and 20-day SeaQuest'" tours including air 
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member on what was planned as a seven- 
year voyage around the world aboard the 
Snark, a fifty-seven-foot ketch designed 
by London. 

Setting sail from San Francisco in 1907 
aboard the leaky, poorly built craft with a 
shifting crew that included drunks, rascals, 
and a murderer, the Londons and young 
Johnson called at Hawaii, the Marquesas, 
Tahiti, Samoa, the New Hebrides, and the 
Solomons before serious health problems 
forced London to sell the Snark and aban- 
don his ambitious plans. During their two 
years at sea, they had been exposed to fre- 
quent danger from native peoples and al- 
most constant risk of shipwreck because 
of a cranky vessel and an inept crew. But 
the experience determined forever the di- 
rection of Martin Johnson's life. 

Toward the end of the Snark's voyage, 
Martin, already an accomphshed still pho- 
tographer, worked with a French film crew 
producing motion pictures, which he 
quickly recognized as the ideal medium 
for exotic scenes of faraway lands. Equally 
influential was his admiration for the Lon- 
dons. Martin perceived them as the model 
couple — Jack brave, determined, forever 
seeking risk and excitement; Charmian a 
skilled shot, as courageous as she was 
sweet and feminine, the ideal partner for 
traveling to wild areas. 

Returning to the United States in 1909, 
Martin became a travelogue lecturer using 
his photographs of the Snark's voyage — 
the first of many instances in which he 
capitahzed shamelessly on the Londons' 
name and reputation. The following year, 
back in Kansas, he met the sixteen-year- 
old Osa Leighty and, after a brief 
courtship, eloped with her. Martin must 
have seemed the ideal man to the stage- 
struck girl: he was tall, handsome, and "an 
acclaimed world traveler who exuded ap- 
pealing country boy manners." And she, 
clearly, was what Martin wanted in a 
wife — beautiful, charming, and willing to 
assume a role (although not an equal one, 
as the Imperatos frequently point out) in 
her husband's fife and career. 

Until 1917 they traveled the vaudeville 
circuit, with Osa singing Hawaiian songs 
while Martin provided the commentary to 
his films. Then a group of Boston in- 
vestors put up $7,000 to send them to the 
Solomon Islands and the New Hebrides to 
make a motion picture. 

When they sailed from San Francisco, it 
was the first of many occasions on which 
Osa would leave home reluctantly, only to 
refuse to be left out of the action when 
they arrived at their destination. Rejecting 

64 Natural History 1/93 

Martin's pleas that she stay with mission- 
aries, she insisted on going along and was 
soon playing the lead in his film — a pretty, 
flaxen-haired white woman, posing and 
pantomiming with fierce-looking natives. 
The formula would eventually lure thou- 
sands of fans to the box office. 

PubUc taste has not changed noticeably 
since then. Although the Johnsons' films 
were exceptionally valuable as documen- 
taries, what moviegoers wanted was sen- 
sationaUsm, and Martin was continually 
on the lookout for sure-fire box office ap- 
peal — cannibals, headhunters, the "miss- 
ing hnk," and above all, action. 

In 1921 he had the good fortune to meet 
Carl Akeley of the American Museum of 
Natural History. Akeley, a leading author- 
ity on African wildlife, was deeply con- 
cerned that the great animal herds were 
doomed to extinction. He sent the John- 
sons on an expedition to Kenya to docu- 
ment vanishing species. Martin's film, in 
turn, helped him raise funds for a new 
African Hall at the Museum. 

At the time, almost all the photographs 
of wildlife in East Africa had been taken 
by professional hunters and sportsmen on 
safari, and the results were mostly ama- 
teurish and uneven. Thanks to Akeley, 
who wanted him to use his skills in the in- 
terest of science instead of the entertain- 
ment industry, Martin met the noted natu- 
ralist Arthur Blayney Percival, who 
advised him on the many details of safari 
life: wildlife habits, the best methods of 
obtaining photographs, and, not least, how 
to select a headman, reliable servants, 
gunbearers, porters, and an excellent 
marksman to cover them with a rifle when 
tiiey got too close to dangerous game. 

While shooting scientifically valid films 
of wildlife in their natural state, as Akeley 
wanted, Martin never lost sight of the pub- 
lic's appetite. "It was all well and good to 
film rhino browsing and trotting across the 
plains," the Imperatos write, "but such 
scenes were no subsritute for a rhino 
charging the cameraman." Or Osa — who 
was regularly sent out with rifle in hand to 
provoke an elephant or lion while Martin 
cranked the camera. Although she had be- 
come a crack shot and was covered by an- 
other, this was still highly risky business, 
but it became a hallmark of the couple's 
African films and contributed largely to 
their success. 

And success it was, as expedition fol- 
lowed expedition until Martin's untimely 
death in a plane crash in 1937. By then the 
Johnsons were celebrities. They had trav- 
eled countless miles (never to South 

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Naiiobi, 1926 Mai tin and Usa Johnson, lefl, willi kodak inventor 
George Eastman, center, who invested in the Johnsons ' expeditions. 

Photographs courtesy of the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House 

America, however) and left a prodigious 
photographic legacy. Their African 
movies — among them. Trailing African 
Wild Animals, Simba, and Baboona — re- 
ceived rave reviews from critics and pub- 
lic alike. In addition to magazine articles, 
they published a number of books on their 
adventures, including Camera Trails in 
Africa, Safari, I Married Adventure, and 
Four Years in Paradise. 

To put together what they call "a serious 
and comprehensive biography," the Im- 
peratos examined 8,486 images in the In- 
ternational Museum of Photography at 
George Eastman House, not to mention 
the collections at the American Museum 

of Natural History, the Martin and Osa 
Johnson Safari Museum, and the Museum 
of Modem Art. They also sifted through 
the diverse aspects of Martin and Osa 
Johnsons' private and professional lives to 
document what was a widespread belief — 
that the Johnsons were "the leading wild- 
life photographers of their time and the 
principal interpreters of Africa to the 
American people." 

Richard M. Ketchum is the founding edi- 
tor o/Blair & Ketchum's Country Journal. 
His most recent book is The Borrowed 
Years, 1938-1941 : America on the Way to 
War {Random House, 1989). 

Osa Johnson with Mbuti Pygmies at Bwana Sura in the eastern Congo, 1930. 

66 Natural History 1/93 




July 19 - August 5, 1993 

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A Matter of Taste 

A Two-Faced Grain 

Because of its chemical structure, rice may be cooked simply or exotically 

by Raymond Sokolov 

So there we were once again in the shel- 
tered precincts of Saint Antony's College 
attending the annual Oxford Food Sympo- 
sium. The topic for 1992 was "flavour- 
ings," and this was interpreted by the 
nearly 200 participants with the usual mix- 
ture of scholarship, wit, and eccentricity, 
which always makes the symposium 
unique among learned meetings. One 
might even say that this year the sympo- 
sium had more than its usual flavorsome 
mix of rigor, vigor, and flair. 

As always there were the founding fa- 
thers, the ichthyopolymath Alan Davidson 
and the genius loci. Saint Antony's own 
social historian of France, Theodore 
Zeldin, presiding with deceptive detach- 
ment over the controlled chaos of the mid- 
September weekend. Typically, there was 
no attempt to straitjacket the proceedings 
with a theory or a definition of the topic, 
even though the notion of flavor (and its 
media) is complex and elusive. Had we 
been gathered in Paris, the entire event 
would no doubt have been given over to 
fractious discussions of basic terms 
{Qu 'est-ce que c 'est que la saveur?). 

They order things differently in Eng- 
land, and the result was a hundred bloom- 
ing flavors wafting about, intellectually as 
well as physically, at an exhibition, a tast- 
ing (chocolate), and meals (the usual mul- 
ticulinary potluck lunch, a remarkable 
Persian dinner, and a table of English 

The intellectual smorgasbord of ses- 
sions, small and plenary, offered an ali- 
mentary range of globe-girdling diversity. 
Magomedkhan Magomedkhanov reported 
on some mountain dishes of his native 
Dagestan, an autonomous Caucasian re- 
public still nominally loyal to Moscow. 
Doreen G. Fernandez, although absent 
herself, contributed the text of a rich dis- 
cussion of the idiosyncratic flavor princi- 
ples of her native Philippines. 

There were presentations on maple 

syrup and on salted food in Danish history, 
on the spice trade and on home-grown fla- 
vorings such as mint. I could go on and list 
the subjects of all the papers, but even that 
would not convey the event in its entirety, 
especially since many sessions occurred 
simultaneously, and the discussions are 
the heart of the symposium. Following a 
certain path through the scheduled events, 
one might have concluded that this was an 
uncharacteristically flamboyant sympo- 
sium with hashish, hedonism, and hot 
food at its center. 

Now that I have had the time to recol- 
lect things in tranquilhty, however, and to 
read through all the papers, I believe I 
have detected three improbable trends 
with no discernible common bond be- 
tween them. 

First, and most surprising, was the sheer 
number of papers deahng with the world 
of Greek and Roman antiquity. Indeed, 
there were no fewer than three papers on 
the subject of silphium alone. What was 
silphium? I can recall wondering exactly 
that as a student of the classics. This prized 
substance seemed to have a slightly suspi- 
cious character, naughty and nice. My 
professors shed no light on the matter and 
I took to translating it as silphium. 

Symposiasts ransacked the ancient evi- 
dence, historical, epigraphic, and numis- 
matic. The consensus was that silphium 
was a highly prized resinous derivative of 
the root of a giant, fennellike umbellifer. 
There was a brisk trade in it centered in 
what is now Libya. The plant mysteriously 
disappeared, but we can get a good idea of 
what it tasted like from the spice called 
asafetida. Most widely used in India 
(where it is best known by its Hindi name, 
hing), asafetida has a musty odor that re- 
minds people, variously, of excrement, 
sweat, and the smell of sexual arousal. 

There were also more mundane investi- 
gations of classical cookery, including 
surveys of flavorings in Roman Britain 

and die flavors of ancient Greece. Since 
the main source for ancient gastronomy is 
Athenaeus' Deipnosophistae, or "The 
Philosophers at Table," itself a kind of 
pseudosymposium, one could see the jus- 
tification for discussing this often tedious 
and untrustworthy anthology of gourmet 
musings. John Wilkins and Shaun Hill 
maintained that much of the material in 
Athenaeus really is a good guide to classi- 
cal dining, and their paper attempted to ex- 
tract fact from epicurean fantasy. For a 
fallen-away classicist, the most impressive 
of these antiquarian papers was a close 
reading of the pseudo-Virgilian poem 
"Moretum," which Margaret Visser ana- 
lyzed as a mock epic recipe for proto- 
pesto as prepared by a poor working man. 

The second trend, really a trendette, 
was probably nothing more than a coinci- 
dence. Three symposiasts wrote papers on 
mastic, the Old World's original chewing 
gum and stifl a flavoring in many tradi- 
tional dishes of \ht Levant. 

The third and least probable trend was 
the concentration of interest in chocolate. 
Here was Sophie Coe bringing forward the 
evidence for the flavoring of chocolate on 
its ancestral ground in ancient Mexico. 
And there was Alice Wooledge Salmon re- 
lating her experiences in the upper depths 
of the professional world of fine chocolate 
manufacture, wholesale division. Ms. 
Salmon evidently spent much time and ef- 
fort penetrating the inner circles of the 
"bean men" who buy Theobwma cacao as 
raw nibs from Venezuela to the Ivory 
Coast and convert it to elite forms of 
chocolate. Next came a confusing and 
smug presentation of subtly flavored 
chocolates from a French chocolatier. 

How entirely pleasant and enlightening, 
then, to sit down with Sri Owen's out- 
wardly modest paper "Flavours for Rice" 
and discover in it a quiedy encyclopedic 
discussion of rice cookery, its history and 
sociology, and the dynamic possibihties 

68 Natural History 1/93 


these ideas open up for cooks in the poly- 
ethnic world of the modem kitchen. 

Owen, a Sumatran long resident in Eng- 
land and a figure in British gastronomic 
life, begins with Cartesian clarity: 

One of the attractions of rice, for the cook as 
well as the eater, is that it absorbs flavour 
without losing shape or texture. A grain of 
milled and poUshed rice consists almost en- 
tirely of starch granules separated by walls 
of cellulose. As the water in the saucepan 
approaches boiling point, the rice grains 
gelatinize — that is, the cellulose walls rup- 
ture and water, or another cooking medium, 
floods in. The rice will absorb any flavour 
that the medium can transport into the 
starch of the grains. Yet the grains stay 
whole and separate. 

There are thus two basic ways of cooking 
rice: with flavouring, and without. 1 think it 
is broadly true to say that people in coun- 
tries where rice has for long been the major 
crop and the staple food always cook their 
rice plain, at least until eating habits have 
been deeply influenced from outside their 
borders. They may eat highly-flavoured 
food with their rice, but the rice itself is 
boiled or steamed and comes to table 
white — that, after all, is the whole point of 
poUshing the rice to begin with. Where the 
rice itself is coloured and flavoured, we ex- 
pect to find that the cooking method and 
recipe originated in areas where rice is a 
secondary crop, or has been quite recently 

Having stated this universal principle, 
Owen looks for exceptions and finds one 
right at home in Southeast Asia, where 
rice is often cooked in coconut milk or col- 
ored yellow with turmeric. Such dishes are 
usually exceptions to the general rice- 
alone rule and are meant for special occa- 
sions or for feting guests. 

As Owen explains, most flavored rice 
dishes — such as risotto and paella, both 
boiled in stock — arose in food cultures 
where other grains were cultivated first 
and rice introduced later. 

In Owen's view, the rice bringers were 
usually armies on the move. She can't doc- 

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SI Train Journey Through China 
'May 7-21, 1993 

More than 2,000 years ago. caravans of merchants first began to travel along the 
ancient Silk Road, a great overland trade route from eastern China to the door- 
step of Europe. Join a team of lecturers from the American Museum for an 
extraordinary journey by private train as we trace the paths of the ancient traders 
who forever transformed the cultures of both East 
and West. For today's traveler, the intrigue of the 
Silk Road lies not only in its historical signifi- 
cance, but also in the complex diversity of 
customs, scenery and fascinating sites seldom 
seen by Westerners. Making our way across great 
deserts, plains and mountain passes, we will travel 
over 2,000 miles from Beijing to Urumchi, 
stopping along the way at ancient caravansaries of 
the Silk Road, including Xian, Lanzhou. 
Dunhuang and Turfan, with an optional extension 
to Tibet. 

For further information contact: 

Museum of 

Discovery Toi 


Central Park West at 79tl! St 

New York, NT 10024-5192 

Toll-free (800) 462-8687 

or in NYS (212> 769-5700 

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ument this, of course, and says so, but 
there is little doubt that rice was imported 
to the Mediterranean from Asia as part of 
the Islamic migration. 

The most historically compUcated case 
of rice cooked in flavored media is found 
in India. Now-traditional rice dishes, pi- 
lafs and biryanis, are all produced by 
steaming rice with other flavorful ingredi- 
ents in tightly sealed vessels. This method 
is known as dum cookery. 

If Owen's theory is correct, this large 
category of flavored rice dishes ought to 
be anomalous in the heart of rice's home 
continent. Indeed, pilafs and biryanis are 
part of a historical subcategory of Indian 
cuisine, the food of the Moguls, invaders 
from the Islamic west. So dum steaming is 
an import, brought in by soldiers with a 
Persian heritage. 

Owen's overall theory about flavored 
rice apphes to the present (and to the fu- 
ture) as well as to the past. She predicts 
that as cosmopolitan forces make the 

Sri Owen's Nasi Ulam 

Owen writes: "This is a sort of 
Malaysian version of what the Bridsh 
adapted from India and called kedgeree. 
Instead of butter, we use thick coconut 
milk, boiled (with spices) until the milk 
becomes oil, and the rice turns green 
from the green and fragrant herbs it has 
been heated with. I first ate Nasi Ulam 
in a Nonya restaurant in Petaling Jaya, 
just outside Kuala Lumpur. Nonya food 
is a mingling of traditional Malaysian 
cuisine with Chinese, and is said to have 
originated in sixteenth-century Ma- 
lacca, where Chinese immigrants mar- 
ried local people. The ladies were po- 
litely addressed as Nyonya or Nonya, 
which means something like 'Madam.' 
They must have been good cooks, and 
this particular restaurant does their 
memory credit. My only criticism of the 
Nasi Ulam was that the chef had been a 
bit too generous with the herbs, so that I 
could hardly taste the rice. In my ver- 
sion I have included a list of herbs that 
you can use, but I would recommend 
that you select just four or five, 
whichever are most easily available; the 
result will be better than if you try to 
stuff them all in." 

About 2 pounds plain cooked 
rice, left to cool to room 

1 pound cold smoked mackerel or 
haddock [finnan haddie], the 
skin and bones removed and 
the flesh finely flaked 

4 tablespoons freshly grated co- 
conut, toasted (optional) 

70 Natural History 1/93 

world smaller, even entrenched rice-con- 
suming regions will increasingly regard 
rice as only one of many possible basic in- 
gredients. The implication is that flavored 
rice will become more common in tradi- 
tional rice cultures and that the future will 
confront cooks with novel aesthetic deci- 
sions: "Will these ingredients make sense 
together?" Owen seems buoyed by the 
new possibUities but determined to remind 
us of the importance and usefulness of tra- 
dition. She points out that a great many of 
the "new" East-West dishes on glamorous 
menus around the world are not new. For 
example, she says that almost all recipes 
for rice with herbs are similar to "a fine old 
Indonesian/Malaysian dish. Nasi Ulam." 
The irony is that this "old" dish is the re- 
sult of a hybrid cuisine invented by Chi- 
nese immigrants in Malay centers. 

Raymond Sokolov is a writer whose spe- 
cial interests are the history and prepara- 
tion of food. 

'A cup very thick coconut milk 
'A teaspoon cayenne pepper 
2 shallots, thinly sliced 
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger 
A teaspoon salt 

About 1 tablespoon each of 4 

or 5 herbs from the following 


Tuimeric leaves 




Kaffir lime leaves 

Lemon grass (use only the soft 



Wild ginger flowers 

Green chilies, seeds removed 

To be added just before serving: 

Juice of 1 lime 
Salt to taste 

1. Put the cold rice in a large bowl and 
mix in the flaked fish and toasted 
coconut (if used). 

2. Put the coconut milk into a wok or 
large shallow saucepan, with the 
cayenne, shallots, ginger, and salt. 
Bring this to a boil and let it bubble 
for 8 to 10 minutes, until it be- 
comes oily. Stir, lower the heat, and 
stir in the rice mixUire. Toss and stir 
this for 3 minutes, until the rice is 
hot. Add the sliced and chopped 
herbs and continue stirring for 1 
minute more. Add lime juice and 
more salt if needed. Serve hot or 

Yield: 6 servings 



The Aleutians, 

Pribilofs and 

the Russian 

Far East 

June 29 -July 11, 1993 

The Bering Sea separates 
two of the most ruggedly 
beautiful areas in the 
world, Alaska and Sibe- 
ria. Join a team of Ameri- 
can Musuem experts this 
summer aboard the World 
Discoverer as we explore 
Alaska's remote islands 
and the Russian Far East. 

Making our way from 
Homer to Nome, Alaska, 
we will visit the Katmai 
Peninsula, the Aleutians, 
Pribilofs and the rugged 
easternmost coast of 
Siberia. Throughout, we 
we should encounter a 
wealth of wildlife, from 
whales, fur seals and 
walrus to immense 
colonies of seabirds. Join 
us for an exciting Arctic 

Museum of 
Discovery Cruises 




» Semidi Islands 
^^humagin Islands 

American Museum 
of Natural History 






aboard the 
Isabela II 

June 8-20, 1993 

Discover the spectacular Galapagos Is- 
lands with a team of Museum experts 
and naturaUsts/guides. Explore tower- 
ing volcanos, crater lakes, lava forma- 
tions and beautiful beaches. Enjoy 
diverse and fascinating wildlife, in- 
cluding giant tortoises, seals, sea 
lions, penguins, marine and land 
iguanas, boobies, albatross, flamin- 
goes, Darwin's famous finches, and a 
host of other animals. High in the 
Andes of Ecuador, we visit the beauti- 
ful city of Quito, stunning Volcano 
Cotopaxi National Park, and the excit- 
ing Andean market of Otavalo. 

At THE American Museum OF 
Natural History 

For futher information contact: 

Museum of 
,^ Natural 
i^f'ii History 
Discovery Cruises 

Central Park West at 79th Street 

New York, NY 10024-5192 

(212) 769-5700 in New York State 

or Toll-free (800) 462-8687 

Jumbo's Big Bones 

The skeleton of Jumbo, the giant cir- 
cus elephant, will be exhibited on the 
Museum's first floor in the Roosevelt 
Memorial Hall beginning mid-January. 
Captured as a baby in Africa in 1861, 
Jumbo was the London Zoo's prime at- 
traction for many years. In 1882, P. T. 
Barnum brought the elephant to the 
United States, where he drew immense 
crowds to Bamum's circus. Jumbo was 
accidentally killed by a locomotive in 
1885, and his skeleton was donated to 
the Museum. 

Jews of Yemen 

Yemenite Jews lost their kingdom, 
power, and influence with the rise of 
Islam. Eventually they were allowed to 
emigrate to- Israel. The documentary 
Jews of Yemen: A Vanishing Culture, by 
anthropologist Johanna Spector, focuses 
on Yemenite Jews in Israel today. She 
will introduce the film and then answer 
questions after it is shown on Thursday, 
January 7, starting at 7:00 p.m. in the 
Main Auditorium. Tickets are $10 ($7 
for members). For ticket availability, call 
(212) 769-5606. 

Contact: Cultural Change, 
Alternative Perspectives 

In conjunction with the quincenten- 
nial celebration of Columbus's voyage, 
the Education Department will offer free 

The Shoestring Players 

David McMurtrie 

programs that examine Asian cultures 
after Western contact. Performances in 
the Kaufmann Theater will include 
Philippine music and dance with story- 
telling by the Karadya'an Ensemble 
three plays by the Pan Asian Repertory 
Theatre, Japanese court dances by the Jo 
Ha Kyu group, and a lecture about fif- 
teenth-century China by historian 
Jonathan Spence. Other events take 
place throughout January, on Saturdays 
and Sundays between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. 
in the Leonhardt People Center For a 
complete schedule of events, call (212) 

Space Exploration 

Beginning Wednesday, January 6, the 
Sky Theater will present "Bold Vi- 
sions. ..Distant Shores," the story of the 
quest to understand the universe from 
the Aztec and Incan observatories to 
today's explorations in space. 

As part of the Frontiers in Astronomy 
and Astrophysics Series, Margaret 
Geller, of the Harvard Smithsonian As- 
trophysical Observatory, wOl give an il- 
lustrated talk, "Mapping a Large Scale 
Structure of the Universe," in the Sky 
Theater on Wednesday, February 10, at 
7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 ($6 for mem- 
bers). For information about all Planetar- 
ium events, call (212) 769-5900. 

Shoestring Players 

The Shoestring Players will present 
"Love, Magic, and Brussels Sprouts," a 
program of folktales from around the 
world for children between five and 
twelve years of age. Among the stories 
will be "Lars, My Lad!" from Sweden, 
"The Black Horse" from Wales, "Baba 
Yaga" from Russia, and a comic tale fom 
Java. The program wUl be in the Kauf- 
mann Theater at 1:30 and 3:30 rm. on 
Saturday, January 30. Tickets are $10 
($6 for members). Call (212) 769-5606 
for information. 

These events take place at the American 
Museum of Natural History, located on 
Central Park West at 79th Street in New 
York City. The Leonhardt People Center 
and the Kaufmann Theater are in the 
Charles A. Dana Education Wmg. The 
Museum has a pay-what-you-wish ad- 
mission policy Call (212) 769-5100 for 
Museum information. 



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Join a biologist from a major U.S. university 
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Iniernahonai Journeys, Inc. l-iOOrSZ^ 

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of the most highly regarded natural history tours in 
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four week sessions offered in Archeological Field 
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V^ 91 Grepory Lane #21 • Pleasant Hill. CA 94523 J 

ture, Hiking and the Outdoors. Enjoying hiking and 
camping safaris, lodge stays, and island resorts in 
New Zealand's scenic National Parks and t\/lilford 
Track; Australia's Outback, Tropical North, and Great 
Barrier Reef. Pacific Exploration Co., Box 3042-N, 
Santa Barabara, CA 93130 (805)687-7282 

Natural History-June 13-23, 1993. Ivory Gull, 
Dovekie, displaying shorebirds, huge seabird 
colonies. Great opportunities for Nara/hal, Polar Bear 
and white Gyrfalcon. Tundra hikes and sled travel on 
the ice. Comfortable hotel and camping. Field Guides 
staff orinthologist and local guides. Contact Field 
Guides Incorportated, PO. Box 160723-H, Austin, TX 

naturalist guide: 
.Arctic Refuge & other wilderness areas 

Wilderness Birding 

PO 103747-U 

Anchorage. AK 99510 

(907) 694-7442 




Firsi Class Cruises with Naturjiisl Guides. 

Naural History Adventures to Cosia Rica 

Tented Safaris to Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda & 


10 years of Qualily Natural History Trips 




\j; 800 351-5041 ■ 

)' P.O.Box3656-C10| 
Sonora, CA 95370 ■ 

■XIl]a(TI¥Tm^ll i 

-^ — ^ 

and more walking vacations. Country Walkers, P.O. 
Box 180NH, Waterbury, VT 05676 1-802-244-1387 

ized, interactive vacations; English-speaking native 
guides; experienced travel counselors. Great Trips 

Canoe Canada's Arctic 

Fly-In canoe trips Into the heart of North America's last great 
wilderness - the tundra and taiga of Canada's Northwest Ter- 
ritories. Photograph caribou, wolves, muskox. moose, 
grizzlies, rich birdlife. Virgin fishing. 7 - 19 days. 
Wildlife biologist guide. Operating since 1974. 
Brochure: CANOE ARCTIC INC. Box 130AC, 
Fort Smith, N.W.T., Canada XOE OPO (403)872-2308 

[hwest ler- 
)Ose, >.f^ 


Komodo Dragons, Balinese Culture. Voyagers, Dept. 
NB-12, Box 915, Ithaca, NY 14851 (800) 633-0299 

Refuge. Small groups in remote wilderness unfolding 
the unique natural history of the high arctic. Custom 
and scheduled river and backpacking trips. Wilder- 
ness Alaska, POB 113063NH Anchorage, AK 99511 

Excellent boats. Plus Amazon & Andes. 


hi-ciepth li'opical advenmn'S. Small i^ roitps 
Voyagers, Dept. NG-1, Box 915, llhcca, NY 14851. 1-800-633-0299^ 

ENGLAND. Walk England's most spectacular land- 
scape with the specialists in Lake District hiking/sight- 
seeing tours — also Scotland and Yorkshire. Charming 
country inns, fine food. English Lakeland Ramblers, 
18 Stuyvesant Oval #1A, New York, NY 10009 









NEW ViaDIRECT SOURCE lets you book at local prices, 
either direct or thru your travel agent, with no middleman's 
markup. Includes phone, fax, and address. 250 pages. 
1800 tours, 1000 places to stay in Botswana, Lesotho, 
Malawi, fJamibIa, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe. Only 
$17.95. Money back guarantee. VISA, American Express. 
Order today by calling 800-672-3274, or writing 
ViaDIRECT. 34 E. Center, Lake Bluff, IL 60044 




GALAPAGOS. Bargain Hunter special on the comfy 
yacht. Marigold. $1825. Includes air from Miami. 
Brochure. 1-800-661-2512. Galapagos Holidays, 745 
Gerrard Street East, Toronto M4M 1Y5 

GALAPAGOS-Birds and Natural History-July 18-31, 
1993. Cruise aboard yacht accommodating 13 per- 
sons plus Field Guides orinthologist and a Galapagos 
naturalist and see all the endemic birds including 13 
Darwins finches, Galapagos Penguins, Flightless Cor- 
morant and displaying Waved Albatross. Highland 
hike to see Galapagos Tortoise and Miconia Forest. 
Optional birding pre-trip to mainland Ecuador. Con- 
tact Field Guides Incorporated, PO. Box 160723-H, 
Austin, TX 78716 (512)327-4953. 

GALAPAGOS EXCLUSIVES: Best yachts. Natural- 
ists, Pnces. Small groups/individuals, Amazon, High- 
lands extensions. Also: other Soutti/Central Ameri- 
can destinations. Forum Travel, 91 Gregory, Pleasant 
Hill, CA 94523 (510) 671-2900 


irai History, Culture and Wildlife. 

Orangutans. Dragons, Rhinos, El- 

phants, and more. Borneo. Komodo. 

lumatra, Java, Sulawesi, Sumba. 

800- 642- ASIA 


GALAPAGOS. Free info on-your-own Discovery 
Tours/wildlife & photo workshops. Also the essential 
250 pp. "how to" guidebook($16.50 postpaid). Gala- 
pagos Travel, P.O. Box 1220, San Juan Bautista, CA 
95045. (800)969-9014 

GALjAPAGOS ISLjANDS tours since 1979. Mainland 
Ecuador/Peru/Bolivia options. Joseph Colley, LAST, 
Inc. 43 Millstone, Randallstown, MD 21133 (410)922- 


You, 9 other adventurers and our licensed 
naturalist will sail by yacht to explore more islands 
than any other Galapagos expedition. 60 trip 
dates, Machu Picchu option. Free brochure. 

Inca Floats 510-420-1550 
1 3 1 1 -N 63rd St., Emeryville CA 94608 

GRAND CANYON-Natural History and Birds-April 21- 
May 6, 1993. 226 mile oar-boat trip through canyon 
with leading Grand Canyon naturalist. Peregrine Fal- 
cons, migrating birds, botany, geology, and ecology. 
Daily hikes. Contact Field Guides Incorporated, P.O. 
Box 160723-H, Austin, TX 78716 (512)327-4953 

GREECEATURKEY April 23— May 8, 1993. Folk 
Medicine, Craft, Village Life. Blending ancient wisdom 
and modern travel comfort. Traditional Tours, P.O. 
Box 5646N, Creswell, OR 97426 (503) 895-2957 

Tours — Explore key cultural arts centers with folk art 
collector/photographer Gordon Frost. Twenty-three 
years experience. Small groups. Contact: Gordon 
Frost, P.O. Box 2-NH, Benicia, California 94510 



S^i^ Explore 

74 Natural History 1/93 

\^eCr>cxrr> ♦ Ccirrrhoaia. ♦ Ucxxys 

E Catalog 800-642-ASIA Independe, 

SucciciLisCS in SoLici-K-cvsr A^icJ 

INDIA, NEPALJIBET THAILAND. Tours, treks, wild- 
life safaris, overland adventures. Huge range of trips- 
Affordable rates. Free 40 page color catalog. Hi- 
malayan Travel, 112 Prospect St., Stamford, CT 
06901 (800)225-2380 

ISLANDS!— Experience the natural beauty of the 
southeast's unspoiled barrier islands and coastal re- 
gions. Naturalist led boat excursions. Dolphins, 
sandy beaches, shorebirds. seafood. Spartina Trails. 
PO Box 2531. Savannah, Georgia 31401 (912) 232- 

PREMIER SMALL GROUP natural history safaris and 
world class fishing lodge. Great Alaska Fish Camp & 
Safans, HC01, Box 218, Sterling, AK 99672 1-800- 
544-2261 Video Brochure 

SONORAN DESERT TOURS; Beautiful Southern 
Arizona-Northern Mexico. Customized guided excur- 
sions. Kino Missions, Nature -Walks, Sea of Cortez, 
Great Photography. Six persons maximum. Box 
10411, Phoenix, AZ 85064 Tel/Fax (602)840-9256 


. SAHARA Desertw. Tuaregs; overlands: YEMEN, 

. MEKONG and GANGES Rivers crimes. Wodaabe 
Nomads of NIGER; BORNEO'S Dayak; Asmat of 
MALI'S Dogon; CAR pygmies. 

. Wildlife in BrazU's PANTANAL, COSTA RICA, 





Box #1147 /NH • Carefree, AZ 85377 
(602) 488-3688 » Fax (602) 4g8-340« 


SOUTH AMERICA-NEPAL. Costa Rica ecoadven- 
tures. Galapagos Islands cruises. Amazon lodges & 
cmises. Andes Inca trails and Patagonia. Trekking 
Nepal. Guaranteed departures & customized itiner- 
aries. Call/write for free information. Terra Adven- 
tures., 70-15 Nansen St., Forest Hills, NY 11375 (800) 
53-TERRA or (800) 538-3772 

WHY TREAD LIGHTLY? Our trips are collaborative 
efforts between Tread Lightly and host countries' con- 
servation organizations. Proceeds benefit organiza- 
tions who work to preserve the area's natural and cul- 
tural resources. For information on where you can 
Tread Lightly, call 1 (800) 643-0060 


minute. Color Video. Outstanding Natural History Pho- 
tography. S25.00 ppd. Naturalight Photography, Box 
197, Kerrick.MN 55756 


S3.70 per word; 16 word minimum. Display classified 
is $405 per inch. All advertisements must be prepaid. 
Rates are not structured for agency or cash discounts. 
All advertisements are accepted at NATURAL HIS- 
TORY'S discretion. Send check/money order payable 
HISTORY Magazine, Central Park West at 79th St., 
New York, NY 10024. Direct any written inquiries to 
Eileen O'Keefe at the above address. Please include 
your personal address and telephone number, issue 
preferred, and suggested category. Deadline — 1st of 
the month, two months pnor to cover date (the Janu- 
ary issue closes Nov.1). Camera-ready art is required 
for display ads. A tearsheet or copy of the page with 
your ad will be sent upon publication. 


(>fcnc>T \ 

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Seaside cliffs, verdant hills, 
nesting seabirds, quaint vil- 
lages and historic seafaring 
towns characterize the coasts 
of the British and Irish Isles. 
Next spring, join a dynamic 
team of lecturers on an exciting 
circumnavigation of these 
beautiful and historic shores. 

Widi extensive coastUnes, die histories of the British and Irish Isles are 
inextricably entwined with the sea. Our exploration of these islands will 
focus on the natural and human history of these vibrant coasts. Along the 
way, we will enjoy the beauty of Ireland's renowned Ring of Kerry, 
subtropical gardens on the Scilly Islands, multitudes of seabirds and vast 
carpets of briUiant wUdflowers throughout. 

Our ship, the 80-passenger Polaris, is ideally suited for tiiis type of 

voyage. Her high degree of maneuver- 
ability and fleet of Zodiacs allow us to 
explore remote islands that are virtu- 
ally inaccessible to larger ships. She 
also offers an ideal forum for our team 
of lecturers who will enrich our 
experience with their knowledge of 
this region. 

Museum of 
Discovery Cruises 

Central Park West at 79th Street 

New York, NY 10024-5192 

(212) 769-5700 in NYS or 

Toll-free (800) 462-8687 

Egret vs. Egret 

High above a rookery in 
Venice, Florida, two great 
egrets settle a dispute. The 
birds' sharp bills might 
appear to be lethal 
weapons, especially 
when thrust at the 
opponent's neck, 

but contestants are * 

rarely injured by 
the aerial jousting. 
This squabble 
began on the 
ground when one 
bird ventured too 
close to the other's nest. 
The birds then launched 
themselves into the air, and a 
stiff breeze helped hold them aloft 
for a brief time while they lunged at 
each other. 

In February, during the height of mating 
season, such disputes often erupt in the small 
rookery, where space is hmited and male egrets 
must vie for a patch on which to build their nests. 
Even more frequent, however, are confrontations 
between male and female. (Because both sexes display 
the same breeding plumage— bright, hme green feathers 
around the eyes and long, wispy aigrettes below their tails- 
distinguishing between the two is extremely difficult.) After claiming a 
nesting site, a male egret waits for courting females to come to him. Those he 
deems unsuitable he drives away. Launching himself at an approaching 
female, he will often engage her in a short aerial battle. He may reject more 
than half a dozen females before selecting a mate. 

The two then settle down to nest building, but the peace does not last; 
when the female departs for several days of foraging before laying her eggs, 
the male resumes the couitttig ritual. He does not choose another mate, 
however, unless his first one fails to return— what one ornithologist has called 
"divorce insurance." — R. A. 

Photograph by Carl R. Sams n 

Dembinsky Photo Associates 

76 Natural History 1/93 



Join a biologist from a major U.S. university 
on a 90 toot riverboat for a 650 mile adventure 
on ttie Amazon River! 8 days. 7 nights. S1695 
includes meals, air from Miami (air from 
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side trips, transfers, lodging, and much more. ^ ■. , 
Departs Saturdays. Previous Client References 'v\ 
Available. Parrots, pink dolphins, monkeys. J 
Cusco and Machu Picchu extension available. 
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"Current knowledge of mantis natural 
history is very meager," states David 
Yager (page 28). To remedy that situation, 
he raises and studies praying mantises in 
his laboratory at the University of Mary- 
land, where he is an assistant professor of 
psychology. Yager (right) first became in- 
terested in the auditory capabilities of 
mantises — and was part of a team that dis- 
covered the elusive mantis ear — while he 
was a doctoral student at Cornell Univer- 
sity. There he met another doctoral student 
in the section of neurobiology and behav- 
ior, coauthor Mike May (below) who was 

investigating the ability of insects to evade 
predatory bats. With the help of aeronauti- 
cal engineer James DeLaurier and fighter 
pilot James E. Whinnery, they were able to 
outline the "top gun" aerial maneuvers of 
mantises pursued by bats. Yager plans to 

study the evolution of hearing in insects in 
the tropics, which are the home of most 
mantis species. May, who began writing 
children's science stories while at Cornell, 
is now a full-time science editor and 
writer, a career he caUs the "most fun job 
that I could imagine." He is currently an 
associate editor of American Scientist 
magazine. For more information on the 
ways insects evade bats, the authors refer 
readers to Donald Griffin's Listening in the 
Dark (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 
1986) and L. A. Miller's "How Insects 
Detect and Avoid Bats," in Neuroethology 
and Behavioral Physiology, edited by F. 
Huber and H. Mark! (Berlin: Springer- 
Verlag, 1983). 

Fred Bruemmer (page 54) goes to the 
ends of the earth to observe and photo- 
graph wildlife. A specialist in animals of 
the Arctic and Antarctic, Bruemmer has 
traveled to polar regions for the past thirty- 
five years. An independent naturalist and 
frequent contributor to Natural Histoty, he 
is a native of Riga, Latvia, but has long 
made his home in Montreal. Bruemmer 
visited the Auckland Islands in the early 
1980s with sea mammal biologist Martin 
Cawthorn to study the behavior of 
Hooker's sea Lions, which breed there, and 
ended up studying the islands' skuas as 
well. "I had read about the extremely ag- 
gressive behavior of breeding skuas else- 
where," says Bruemmer, "and I was struck 
by the gentleness of the Enderby skuas to- 
ward humans." He also found that this 

docility does not extend to the other ani- 
mal inhabitants of Enderby Island. 
Bruemmer is currently on a three-month 
excursion to southern Australia to con- 
tinue his study of sea lions. For further 
reading, he recommends The Skuas, by 
Robert W. Fumess (Calton, England: T 
andADPoyser, 1987). 

78 Natural History 1/93 

Alexander S. Milovsky, a Moscow 
journalist-photographer, (page 34) has 
traveled extensively throughout the for- 
mer Soviet Union, exploring and docu- 
menting its little-known regional cultures. 
A senior staff writer until 1980 on the na- 
tional magazine Kiiltura, Milovsky has 
pubhshed ten books on Eurasian religious 
art, edifices, and practices. Last July in 
Natural History Milovsky published a dra- 
matic firsthand account of a healing cere- 
mony by a Nganasan shaman in Siberia 
("Tubiakou's Spirit Flight"). This time he 
travels from Moldova to Azerbaijan to 
record five festivals connected with the 


LancC Sldventures uH-tfi ^?qpert Lecturers 

death of winter and rebirth of spring. "To 
have photographed only one of these 
five," he claims, "would be considered a 
coup for any Russian ethnographer Sev- 
eral of them told me that these practices no 
longer exist, although they are well known 
from older accounts." For further reading, 
see "Festivals and Traditions of the Geor- 
gian Soviet Socialist Republic," in Cul- 
tures, vol. 3, no. 2, 1976, pp. 68-81. 

Yucatan's Maip and 

Olmec Heritage 
Februarq 18-27, 1993 

Mexico's awe-inspiring ancient 
sites, including Chichen Itza, 
Uxmal, Coba, Tulum, Palenque 
and Mayapan. 

Quatemola: Heartland 

of the Mai{a 
Feb. 20 - March t 1993 

The ancient sites of Tikal and 
Iximche, as well as Guatemala 
City, Antigua, Chichicastenango 
and Lake Atitlan. 

Splendors of 

^4eu/ Zealand 

Feb. 20 - March 6, 1993 

Spectacular fjords and mountains 
at Milford Sound and Mount Cook 
National Park, as well as 
Auckland, Rotorua, Queenstown, 
Dunedin and Napier. 

Cultures and Folkart of 

Mexico's Oaxaca \/allei| 

March 6-14, 1993 

Towns, villages and markets in 
the Oaxaca Valley and the ancient 
sites of Monte Alban and Mitla. 

Barranca del Cobre; A 

Train Trip through 

Mexico's Copper Canqon 

March 11-18, 1993 

An exciting rail journey in the 
Sierra Madras to Copper Canyon 
and the towns of Creel, Divisadero 
and El Fuerte. 

China's Silk Road 

Bk\ Train 

Maq 7-21, 1993 

Ancient cities and stunning land- 
scapes, including Beijing, Xi'an, 
Jiayuhuan, Dunhuang, Mogao 
Caves, Turfan, Urumchi and 

Berlin to Istanbul 

\y<\ Train 
Mom B-26, 1993 

Cities and towns of Eastern Eu- 
rope, including Berlin, Potsdam, 
Dresden, Prague, Krakow, 
Budapest, Sofia, Plovdiv, Edime 
and Istanbul. 

Behind the Masks of 
Bali and Java 
Juhj 11-23, 1993 

The art, music and architecture of 
Bali, as well as Yogyakarta, Solo, 
Borobudur and Prambanan on 

China, Mongolia and 

Russia bq Private Train 

September 7-23, 1993 

Deserts, taiga and cities, includ- 
ing Beijing, Erlian, the Gobi, Ulan 
Bator, Ulan Ude, Lake Baikal, 
Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Yaroslav 
and Moscow. 

Museum of 

Discovery Tours 

Central Park West at 79th St. New York. NY lOlM^ 
(212) 769-5700 in NYS Toll-free (800) 462-f^6S7;' 

Laura Sniale and Kay E. Holekamp 

(page 42) are assistant professors at 
Michigan State University in East Lans- 
ing. Smale (above) is in the psychology 
department, and Holekamp (below) is in 
zoology. For the past four and a half years, 
however, they have lived in Kenya's 
Masai Mara National Reserve, studying 
free-living spotted hyenas Smale and 

Holekamp want to continue working with 
wild hyenas, but they also look forward to 
resuming their respective research pro- 
jects with rodents. Smale's plans include 
studies of the neural and hormonal regula- 
tion of biological rhythms, as well as hor- 
monal influence on aggressive behavior. 
Holekamp will return to the subject of her 
Ph.D. thesis — wild ground squirrels — and 
wild African grass rats, investigating their 
physiological ecology and dispersal. 
Smale and Holekamp are writing a lay 
book about thek experiences studying the 
Mara hyenas, living in the bush, and inter- 
acting daily with their Masai neighbors. 
To learn more about hyenas, readers can 
turn to Hans Kruuk's The Spotted Hyena 
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 
1972) and M. G. Mills's Kalahari Hyenas 
(London: Unwin Hyman, 1989). 

After studying red foxes in Scotland 
and arctic foxes on the Aleutian Islands, 
Laurence G. Frank (page 46) turned his 
attention to spotted hyenas. In 1978 Frank 
(below) started the Masai Mara hyena 
study and spent much of the next six years 
in the field in Kenya. Together with Kay 
Holekamp and Laura Smale, he is still ac- 
tively involved in that long-term popula- 
tion study, but the bulk of his time is now 
spent with a captive hyena colony at the 
University of California at Berkeley, 
where he is a research associate in the psy- 
chology department. Stephen E. Glick- 
man (right), a professor in the same de- 
partment since 1968, is director of the 
university's captive hyena project. Frank 
and Glickman find that while their re- 

search energies are largely devoted to un- 
derstanding the endocrinology and sexual 
differentiation in female spotted hyenas, 
they are sometimes called upon to get 
more dramatically involved with the ani- 
mals. In 1991, for example, raging fires 
near the colony forced them to evacuate 
the project's thirty hyenas to an empty 
building on campus. Fortunately, they re- 
port, while spotted hyenas can be pretty 
rough on one another, they look on the re- 
searchers as their mothers and are remark- 
ably gentle. In fact, Frank says he wonders 
sometimes what might have happened if 
this highly sociable hyena had evolved in 
close association with humans, as the 
dog's ancestors did. What sort of domestic 
pets might we have had then? For more on 
siblicide, the authors recommend Douglas 
Mock's May 1985 Natural History article, 
"Knockouts in the Nest." 

Photographed by his partner, Jean Sto- 
ick, Carl R. Sams II, this month's "Nat- 
ural Moment" photographer (page 76) ap- 
pears with two white-tailed deer. A native 
of Michigan, Sams began his career in 
wildlife photography in 1982 when he 
took a picture of three bucks in a forest 
near his home in White Lake, Michigan. 
Following that, Sams attracted a doe by of- 
fering her an apple, and a few days later, 
he was shaking the apple tree for the doe 
and her fawn. Over the years, Sams has 
taken more than 40,000 pictures of one 
deer family to whom his presence has be- 
come so familiar that Sams says Now I 

have nineteen deer that I can walk through 
the forest with." He and Stoick have also 
developed a close relationship with one 
pair of common loons, which they have 
photographed for five summers. Their pa- 
tience has paid off; their pictures have ap- 
peared in many magazines and won nu- 
merous awards. Sams explains that he 
could not have taken the "Natural Mo- 
ment" photograph of egrets fighting if he 
had not anticipated the birds' behavior, 
which he had been observing for weeks. 
He took the picture with a Nikon F4 cam- 
era with a 500mm lens at a shutter speed 
ot one 1/2 000 ot a second 

Natural History 1/93 

American Museum of Natural History 





May 13-26, 1993 

Join a team of American Museum and guest 
lecturers next spring for a fascinating train 
journey tlirough newly re-opened Eastern 
Europe. Traveling from Berlin to Istanbul 
aboard the magnificent Red Prussian, follow 
the tracks of the legendary Orient Express 
through Germany, Czechoslovakia. Poland, 
Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. 
Along the way, visit historic cities such as 
Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Krakow, Budapest, 

Sofia, Plovdiv, Edime and Istanbul, as well as 
small towns and picturesque villages that have 
retained their rural chami. 

Our luxurious, privately-chartered train, once 
used exclusively by Eastern European digni- 
taries, is an ideal base for exploring this 
region. Enjoy a front row seat from which to 
watch the beautiful landscapes and historic 
cities of Eastern Europe unfold. 

Museum of 
i^ffis'i* History 

Discovery Tours 

(212) 769-5700 in NYS or 
Toll-free (800) 462-8687 


Some of our biggest attractions cover a wide range. 

At night up here you can hear the 

wolves howhng. Some of the 
^^N^> > last big packs anywhere on earth. 

y s - You can snap Moose grazing 

in the wetlands and catch Muskoxen 
ambling past almost within reach. 
Up here herds of Caribou still stretch to the horizon. 
And Polar Bears patrol the coastline. 

And beneath the waves are Belugas and Bowheads, 
Narwhals and Walruses, Ringed and Bearded Seals. 

High overhead soar Golden Eagles, Sandhill Cranes, 
White Pelicans, Snow Geese, Gyrfalcons, Old Squaw 
Ducks. The list is as endless as the land. 1.3 million square 
miles of virtually untouched wilderness. 

When you come up here, bring a camera. 

And be ready for a howl. 

Subarctic Wilderness Adventures Ltd. 

Box 685 CTP, Dept, NNH 
Fort Smith, NT XOE OPO 
Phone: 403-872-2467 Fax: 403-872-2126 
Guide-interpreted, nahiral history and 
crosscultural (Inuit and Dene) experi- 
ences. Small groups. Sampling/stalking/ 
photographing abundant bird, plant 
and wildlife. 

Whilewolf Adventure Expeditions Ltd. 

2565 West 2nd Ave., Dept. NNH 
Vancouver, BC V6K IJ7 
Phone: 1-800-661-6659 
Professionally-led Canadian natural 
history, wilderness expeditions since 
1979. Canoe or raft the best rivers in 
the world - the Nahanni, Coppermine 

BathursI Inlet Lodge 

Box 820, Dept. NNH 

Yellowknife, NT XlA 2N6 
Phone: 403-873-2595 Fax: 403-920-4263 
Central Arctic coast/interior barren- 
lands. Scenery, wildlife (caribou, musk- 
oxen), flowers. Inuit culture, history. 
Lodge. Spring program, canoeing. 

Blachford Lake Lodge 

Box 1568, Dept. NNH 

Yellowknife, NT XlA 2P2 

Phone: 403-873-3303 Fax: 403-920-4013 

Naturalist/photo experiences at remote 

lodge. Spring caribou viewing, 

cross country skiing. 'Aurora Borealis'. 

Canoeing. Boreal flora and fauna. 

Frontiers North Inc. 

774 Bronx Ave., Dept. NNH 

Winnipeg, MB R2K 4E9 

Phone: 1-800-663-9832 

Fax: 204-663-6375 

Wildlife viewing facility- Sila Lodge, 

on the Hudson Bay coast. Polar bear. 

caribou, Arctic wolves. Naturalists 
and photographers. 

Great Canadian Ecoventures 

PO. Box25181-R, Dept. NNH 
Winnipeg, MB R2V 4C8 
Phone: 1-800-667-WILD 
Fax: 204-586-4590 

Thelon Game Sanctuary. Comfortable 
base camps. Muskoxen, caribou, Arctic 
wolves, other unique wildlife. Canoe 
the Kazan, Thelon, Snowdrift rivers. 

Hume River Outfitters 

General Delivery, Dept. NNH 
Fort Good Hope, NT XOE OHO 

Phone: 403-598-2231 Fax: 403-598-2024 
Learn bush skills with Charlie Barnaby, 
a Dene elder Cultural introduction, 
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Vol. 102, No. 2. February 1993 

Cover: Partial W evergreens, a female golden- 
crowned kinglet perches in a spruce. Storx on 
page 4. Photograph by Rob and Melissa 
Simpson: Simpson and Co.. Nature Stock. 

2 Letters 

4 Kinglets' Realm of Cold 

Bemd Heinrich 

How can a tiny bird possibly sunivefor 

a single night at twenty below zero? 

10 This View of Life Stephen Jay Couid 

Cordelia 's Dilemma 

20 Science Lite ^ogerLWe/ic/j 

Of Light Bulbs and Shaggy Dogs 

26 Hare-Raising Encounters Mark o 'Donoghue and Susan stuan 

In the Yukon forest, an unsuspected killer stalks the helpless newborn animals. 

34 Victorian England's Heppomania mm j. Root 

Even the famous queen wrote about the fashionable hippo in her diarx. 

42 Frequent Fliers Margaret m. Stewart 

How a biologist discovered what goes "plop" in the predawn Puerto Rican rainforest. 
46 Fish Gotta Swim, Frogs Gotta Fly Sharon B. Emerson 

50 The Underside of Winter Peter j. Marckand 

The dead of winter isn 't dead beneath the deep snow. 

58 This Land Roben H. Mohlenbrock 
Cushenbury Canyon, California 

64 Reviews Michael J. Bean 

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang 

68 Celestial Events Gail s. cieere 

On the Solar System 's Edge 

70 A Matter OF Taste 

Raymond Sokolov 
Shades of Carolina Rice 

74 At the American Museum 
OF Natural History 

76 The Natural Moment Photograph by Scott w. Sharkey^ 

Stonn Wanning 

78 Authors 


Alan P Ternes Ediior 

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Natural History (ISSN 0028-07 12) is published monthly by 
the American Museum of Nalunil History. Central Park West 
at 79lli Street New York, N.Y. 10024. Subscriptions; $28,00 a 
year. In Canadit and all other countries: $37.00 a year. Sce- postage ptiid at New York, N.Y. and at additional 
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Just So Egg Stories 

It surprises me that Stephen Jay Gould 
had such trouble finding anecdotal evi- 
dence among his American colleagues at 
Harvard for "Columbus Cracks an Egg" 
(December 1992). I recall with pleasure a 
day in my boyhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 
the late 1940s when my parents took me to 
a movie entitled Christopher Columbus. 
The most vivid recollection I have from it 
was of Columbus posing the standing egg 
riddle to a haughty group of royal advis- 
ers; then, to their amazement, cracking the 
egg down hard on the table. It never has 
occurred to me since then that I was wit- 
nessing iconoclastic behavior or a bolt of 
creativity. Rather, I think I appreciated its 
bold empiricism; the egg — at least in the 
film — was hard-boiled, 

BoNHAM C, Richardson 

Virginia Polytechnic Institute 

Blacksburg, Virginia 

I was brought up in Belgium, where the 
story of Columbus and his egg was com- 
mon knowledge, as it must have been in 
Darwin's time. The story's moral, how- 
ever, was somewhat different. When 
Columbus's achievement was behttled at 
Cardinal Mendoza's banquet, Columbus 
asked the guests to stand an egg on its 
head. They could not figure out how to do 
this, and he showed them. When they 
complained that they all could do it that 
way, Columbus answered them: yes, of 
course you can, after I have shown you 
how. As to what Darwin meant in his ref- 
erence to Columbus, I think he wanted to 
show how even the best mind could over- 
look the obvious. 

Reading Gould is always challenging 
and fun, even when I find myself not 
agreeing. Long may he continue writing 
for Natural History. 

Robert Lubell 
New York, New York 

Stephen Jay Gould's "Columbus 
Cracks an Egg" reminds me that, just this 
once, I knew something he didn't. My 
story, which emanates from a distant 
childhood, has Columbus being taunted 

by fellow pilots after many voyagers had 
visited the Americas; they implied that 
what Columbus had done was hardly 
spectacular. In other words, shipping 
across the Atlantic was easy, and Colum- 
bus's accomplishment did not deserve the 
adulation it received. Columbus then chal- 
lenged his detractors to balance an egg on 
its end. When they all failed, Columbus 
took an egg and gently cracked it on the 
table, and stood it on its newly flattened 
bottom. It never occurred to me that this 
was cheating or the mere use of a "knack 
or expedient." The message as I see it, and 
which Columbus is supposed to have of- 
fered to the scoffers, was that once you 
have seen how something difficult is ac- 
complished, it may be very easy to follow 
the leader. This, I think, is the insightful 
and enduring scientific message of the 
Columbus tale and may well be what Dar- 
win had in mind with his reference to 
Columbus's egg. 

Lawrence W. Swan 
Redwood City, California 

Pharaohs and Farouk 

I enjoyed Allen Guttman's article "Old 
Sports" (August 1992), which discussed 
how important it was for Egyptian 
pharaohs to prove their athletic prowess 
and the resultant stories of astounding 
feats by these rulers. Guttman might have 
overlooked a possible explanation for 
these reports. 

Earlier in our own century, young King 
Farouk of Egypt was sent to England for 
schooling. When he presented himself at 
tryouts for his school's boxing team, he 
announced that he had trained as a boxer 
in Egypt, where he was an undefeated 
champion. He then entered the ring and 
was thoroughly trounced by an English 
classmate. Stunned, he explained, "In 
Egypt, no one ever hit me back!" 

Perhaps Farouk's Egyptian opponents 
were upholding an ancient tradition. 

Myron Moskovitz 
San Francisco, California 

In Mourning 
I was delighted to read Stephen Jay 

2 Natural History 2/93 

Gould's essay on Tennyson's In Memo- 
riam ("This View of Life," November 
1992) because the poem's imagery and in- 
sights had been the focus of conversations 
I had with my father. Although commen- 
taries on the medical and scientific content 
of In Memoriam may hold our attention 
briefly, I endorse Professor Gould's view 
that it should be read for its powerful de- 
scriptions of the experience of mourning 
and of the author's emotional and philo- 
sophical passage from grief to acceptance 
of a profound loss. A decade ago, while 
living near Bristol, England, I cycled to 
Saint Andrew's Church, Clevedon, to find 
the memorial to Tennyson's friend, Arthur 
Hallam. From respect for the memory of 
my father, who had loved the majesty and 
imagery of In Memoriam, I reread the 
poem in the quiet church and left much 
more at peace. Like my father before me, 
and thousands before him, I had found so- 
lace in Tennyson's In Memoriam. 

Rod K. Calverley 

University of California 

San Diego, California 

Salt Water Solution 

I was somewhat amused by Sokolov's 
speculations on saltwater immersion in 
"History in a Stewpot" (November 1992). 
Washing small mammals in salt water be- 
fore cooking is common among rural peo- 
ple, especially in the Midwest and South. 
Salt water is considered to be an antisep- 
tic, removing bacteria, especially from ac- 
cidental contamination from feces and 
urine during the dressing of the animal. 
Salt water is also effective in removing 
blood. Lastly, some soaking in salt water 
removes the "wild taste." Having 
butchered and eaten one small goat, I can 
attest to the need to eliminate that taste. I 
suspect that the people of Montserrat use 
salt water for the same reasons that the rest 
of us "quaint country folk" do. I still wash 
squirrels in salt water, even though I am a 
rather educated yokel. Sometimes the 
urban educated find too much mystery in 
simple things. 

Jack Rush 
Vida, Montana 





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Kinglets' Realm of Cold 

To survive New England winters, tiny birds must be fuel efficient 

by Bemd Heinrich 

On a midwinter night in the mountains 
of western Maine, the spruce-fir forest 
sounds like giant pounding surf as the 
wind drives thick snow through the trees. 
The thermometer reads -20° F, and bodily 
contact with the biting air is nearly lethal. 

I'm clothed in insulated long under- 
wear, wool pants covered by ski pants, two 
sweaters, a windbreaker, a woolen cap, 
gloves with liners, wool stockings, and in- 
sulated boots. My hands are immobilized 
and useless in less than a minute when I 
take off my gloves. I'd be shivering vio- 
lently if I stood still for only a few min- 
utes, and my body temperature would 

begin to drop unless I kept moving vigor- 
ously as well. How do the resident birds 
maintain a body temperature several de- 
grees higher than ours, even for a minute? 
More amazingly, how do they survive the 
entire night? 

Ruffed grouse escape the biting air by 
diving directly into the deep snow, hollow- 
ing out a temporary shelter for the night. 
Some chickadees and nuthatches seek 
refuge in ready-made tree holes and hol- 
lows. I've seen downy and hairy wood- 
peckers excavate tree holes in November, 
apparently for the sole purpose of sleeping 
in them at night. Ornithologist Charles 

A golden-ci owned kinglel gleuus iiisi ih I torn the twigs of an autumn olive bush. 

Harold Lindstrom 

4 Natural History 2/93 

Kendeigh has shown that sleeping in cavi- 
ties can aid overnight survival because 
heat is retained near the bird, and consid- 
erable energy savings then result from the 
reduced need for shivering. Chickadees, 
as shown by biologist Susan Chaphn, then 
of Cornell, also save energy by allowing 
their body temperature to decline by some 
18° F. Most seed-eating birds, including 
pine and evening grosbeaks, crossbills, 
redpolls, goldfinches, and pine siskins, 
show little nocturnal torpor, and they tarry 
in these Maine winter woods only if their 
respective food trees bear ample seeds 
packed with fat to fuel their nearly con- 
stant shivering throughout the night. The 
key to survival is food, because food is 
converted to heat through shivering. 
When food is scarce and shivering not vi- 
able, the bird may resort to torpor, by turn- 
ing down the body's thermostat. 

In a few days, the storm is almost for- 
gotten. For the survivors, life returns to its 
usual routine. The grouse feed on birch 
buds, the finches fly in flocks from one 
seed-bearing tree to another, and the 
pileated woodpecker again hammers long 
and deep oval cavities into the bases of fir 
trees to extract hibernating carpenter ants. 

Above the raucous "kek-kek-kek" of 
the pileated woodpecker and the "tsee- 
tsee" of the chickadee I hear a faint con- 
versation of golden-crowned kinglets in a 
spruce thicket. Their sound is as unobtru- 
sive as a gentle breeze and just as easily 
goes unnoticed by all except those who 
know it. (I've talked with dozens of Maine 
woodsmen who claim they have never 
seen or heard them, although the birds are 
among the most common in these woods.) 
Among the thick branches, the tiny birds 
climb, hop, and hover as they forage, 
mainly on the undersides of twigs. 
Plumaged in soft olive, these birds have 
crowns of gold bordered in black. The 
males also have a flamelike orange crest 









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tiiat is normally concealed among the yel- 
low crown feathers, but which can in- 
stantly be erected. The golden-crowned 
kinglet inhabits the coniferous forests of 
the northern United States and Canada 
year round. (A related species, the ruby- 
crowned kinglet, is here only in the sum- 

Evening shadows already were falling 
at 4:30 p.m., and I wanted to find out where 
llie birds sleep. I was awed by their 
achievement of overnight survival in the 
cold. Three birds I was following suddenly 
made long, high-pitched calls, flew off as 
it on signal, and vanished. I was unable to 
lind where or how they spend the night. 
However, the survivors of the storm a few 
nights earlier lingered in my mind. 

The presence of kinglets in an area with 
lecun^ent subzero frosts is remarkable on 
at least two counts. First, the birds are tiny. 
At about two ounces, they are among the 
smallest passerine, or perching, birds in 
ihe world, only slightly heavier than most 
hummingbirds. A kinglet's body, if one 
were to remove its feathers, is no larger 
than the end of one's little finger. But 
kmglets mdmtain a high body tempera- 
ture, just like other perching birds, even as 
air tempeiaUires dip to -30° F or colder. 
Some fifty years ago the Finnish ornitholo- 
gist Pontus Palmgren determined that the 
goldcrest, or European kinglet, maintains 
a body temperature of 103° to 107° F in 
winter and is insulated with feathers ac- 
counting toi 23 to 25 percent of its body 
weight (This is if we count tail and wing 
teatheis, the latter are especially important 
in insulation. This degree of insulation is 

close to that of other northern birds rela- 
tive to body size.) 

According to the physical laws of heat- 
ing and cooling, a two-ounce kinglet 
should lose heat at about a 75 percent 
faster rate than does a four-ounce chick- 
adee and would have to consume and bum 
75 percent more food per unit of body 
mass to maintain the same body tempera- 
ture. Also, since smaller birds have a 
lesser absolute amount of insulation than 
do larger ones, they cool even faster than 
predicted by body mass alone. Nonethe- 
less, golden-crowned kinglets survive in 
cold climates alongside the raven, the 
world's largest songbird. 

A second notable fact about kinglets' 
winter residence in Maine is that they feed 
on insects. In the fall, most insectivorous 
birds migrate south, seeking better hunting 
grounds. In contrast, many seed-eaters 
stay. How do kinglets consume up to three 
times their own body weight in insects 
each short winter day? Unlike chickadees, 
kinglets never come to feeders for seeds 
and suet. If kinglets are without food for 
only one or two hours in the daytime, they 
starve to death. Yet, in the north, where 
they live and appear to prosper, winter 
nights are generally fifteen hours long. 
Since foraging is not possible at night, and 
kinglets have not been observed to cache 
food, what saves them from dying ten 
times over during the night? 

In studies of the closely related gold- 
crest, researchers concluded that in winter 
the birds specialize on collembolans, or 
springtails. A species of these primitive in- 
sects, commonly known as "snow fleas," 

6 Naiukal His roKY 2/93 

is extremely abundant in the Maine 
woods, and I determined that the snow 
fleas spend their time on trees in the win- 
ter. Might they be the manna on which the 
kinglets subsist? I examined the stomach 
contents of a dead kinglet at dusk. Tem- 
peratures in the previous two weeks had 
been steadily below 0° F. The kinglet's 
stomach was tilled to capacity; it con- 
tained the remains of thirty-nine 
geometrid caterpillars, a spider, a few 
moth scales, twenty-four almost micro- 
scopic fly larvae, and just four springtails. 

While this probe showed that spring- 
tails are not the birds" only food, it failed to 
solve the mystery of the kinglets' survival. 
Although the bird's stomach was packed 
with food, it could not have fueled heat 
production for more than an hour or so on 
a cold night. Could most of the kinglets' 
energy come from fat stores laid down 
throughout the day? 

Charles R. Blem and John F. Pagels at 
Virginia Commonwealth University as- 
sayed body composition of golden- 
crowned kinglets throughout the daylight 
period in midwinter in Virginia. Body 
lipid, or fat, reserves increased from a low 
of about 0.2 grams in the morning to about 
0.6 grams in the evening. Lipids have a 
high energy content, but using the stan- 
dard equations for maintenance metabo- 
lism of birds of this size, Blem and Pagels 
predicted that a kinglet at normal body 
temperature accumulates no more than 
half the stores of lipid needed to fuel its 
metabolism through fifteen hours of night 
at 32° F Therefore, the fat stores accumu- 
lated during the day are not enough to 
keep a kinglet warm even on a relatively 
mild winter night. However, Ellen Thaler 
and her coworkers at the Alpenzoo in 
Innsbruck, Austria, took a different ap- 
proach. Observing a slight difference in 
the body weight of a bird between dusk 
and dawn, they calculated that if this 
weight loss is due to fat utihzation, then 
energy reserves suffice even at -13° F 
during an eighteen-hour nocturnal fast. 
However, the nocturnal weight loss is al- 
most certainly not from fat alone. The 
birds lose weight from gut-emptying, as 
well as glycogen, protein, and water loss. 

Despite the unsolved mysteries of their 
overnight energy source and their food 
supply, the kinglets" survival strategies un- 
doubtedly include mechanisms of energy 
conservation. Kinglets conserve some 
body heat by puffing out their feathers and 
tucking in their twiglike legs and feet. As 
in other birds, counter-current heat ex- 
changers probably play a prominent role 

in maintaining blood circulation through 
the extremities. 

Do kinglets also stretch fat and energy 
supplies to last the whole night by becom- 
ing torpid? During torpor, the animal turns 
down its internal thermostat. Nocturnal 
torpor is generally a function of body size. 
The smaller the animal, the more energy it 
saves by hypothermia, and the quicker it 
can again warm up in the morning. Some 
hummingbirds go torpid regularly. A logi- 
cal prediction would be that torpor is a key 
adaptation of kinglets, yet all the data so 
far available indicate that they do not go 
into torpor at night. Thaler has long stud- 
ied kinglets in captivity, and her measure- 
ments of body temperature in outdoor 
aviaries show no steep drop in nighttime 
body temperature. Perhaps studies of wild 
birds, or of birds without access to ample 
aviary diets, will shed more fight on this 
possibility. In terms of saving energy, it 
makes sense to enter torpor. But I suspect 
it is very dangerous if temperatures get too 
low. A small, cooled bird might be unable 
to regain thermal control and would freeze 
within minutes when air temperature dips 
below -15°F. 

Behavior is also crucial in achieving 
nocturnal energy balance. Naturafists have 
observed that winter birds are almost ab- 
surdly tame at very low temperatures; they 
become oblivious to distractions and even 
to predators. So, too, with kinglets. They 
spend less time avoiding predators, mov- 
ing about, and aggressively displaying, 
and they spend more time concentrating 
on feeding. 

Another critical behavioral response is 
finding a good nocturnal shelter, which is 
why I tried to follow the birds at dusk to 
find out where they go. We know almost 
nothing about where wild kinglets spend 
the night, except that they likely seek shel- 
ter in dense conifer branches, often in little 
caves formed by snow cushions on these 
branches. Even a Mttle shelter may make 
the difference between death and survival 
when near the edge. Do kinglets preferen- 
tially perch in the lower portions of thick 
trees where there is less wind current and 
convection? Do they fly to a preselected 
place when I see them suddenly leave at 
dusk? Blem has also observed these de- 
partures and once chanced to see a kinglet 
enter a squirrel's nest at dusk. 

One very critical aspect of the inicro- 
environment where kinglets spend the 
night is the availability of other warm bod- 
ies of their own kind. Studies have shown 
that at 32° F, pairs of roosting European 
goldcrests reduce their heat loss by 23 per- 

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cent, and trios reduce heat loss by about 37 

Just before dark, European goldcrests 
form groups with the aid of contact calls. 
Thaler observed that when approaching 
their sleeping tree, the birds make specific 
calls, which presumably attract the mem- 
bers of the troop, a number of kinglets for- 
aging together. A second assembly, or 
bunching, call draws the group into a clus- 
ter along a horizontal branch where they 
will spend the night. Birds in the center of 
clusters sit bunched with their heads 
pulled into their shoulders and their bills 
pointing up, while the birds at the edges 
hold their heads to the sides. The contact 
groups form in warm weather as well as 
cold, but whereas it may take them twenty 
minutes to get into position in warm 
weather, they bunch up in only five min- 
utes when it is cold. Mated pairs always 
bunch up with each other in mere seconds, 
as do siblings in cold weather. Interest- 
ingly, the raven, in the same chmate, sur- 
vives by sharing food in the form of large 
carcasses. The kinglet, in contrast, prob- 
ably survives by sharing warmth. But in 
both species, sharing is motivated by the 
immediate need to get access to either 
food or warmth. Since one is converted to 
the other, food and warmth are function- 
ally similar. 

In summer, kinglets tend to be common 
throughout their range, but in winter, they 
are sometimes common, sometimes rare, 
or even absent. No reason for this winter 
variation of abundance has been found. 
Perhaps major portions of the population 
die off every winter when the weather be- 
comes particularly bitter. 

Heavy winter losses could be counter- 
balanced by the exceptional numbers of 
young that kinglets produce each year. 
Every year a pair produces two clutches, 
each clutch containing seven to twelve 
young. (Pairs usually build their second 
nest before the first clutch has fledged.) 
Thus, only a small fraction of winter sur- 
vivors could account for a substantial new 
population the next fall. 

I was curious to find out if, in the -20° F 
temperature, the kinglets near my Maine 
camp had survived. In a total of twenty-six 
hours that I looked for them in February 
and March, I encountered eighteen of 
them (in seven troops). I doubt that I over- 
looked any kinglets nearby, because the 
birds vocalize almost constantly. Their 
thin, bell-like cheeps reminded me of 
small pebbles being struck together, and 
on the still and windless days when I 
searched for the birds I could hear them 
from at least twenty paces. One bird trav- 
eUng alone made sixty-six faint calls in 
one minute, while kinglets traveling in 
groups of two called on the average of 
only forty times per minute. Finally, 
threesome that had joined a noisy troop of 
more than twenty black-capped chick- 
adees called only about two times a 
minute each. My skimpy probe does not 
provide sufficient data for conclusions, but 
it does open the question of what role the 
vocal behavior plays in their winter sur- 
vival of kinglets. 

In early March, the average number of 
kinglets per troop near my camp was only 
2.6. If huddling is necessary for survival 
over cold nights, then these Maine birds 
didn't seem to have many spare huddlers 

"If they don 't buy anything, I say we kill them." 


8 Natural History 2/93 


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nearby. Body warmers are not likely to ap- 
pear magically just at dusk. Perhaps the 
kinglets' sociability throughout the day 
helps to insure the presence of huddlers on 
cold nights. Attracting and keeping con- 
tact with others may be a key component 
of winter survival, one that is not likely to 
be maintained by vision alone in the dense 
coniferous forests. With an average of 
only 2.6 birds per troop, losing one or 
more members might doom the rest in the 
next period of heavy frost or food depriva- 
tion. Silent birds will not be followed. 
They must themselves follow (which 
could take time from their own precious 
foraging) or become isolated. By calling 
they can both follow and be followed. 

Knowing that these wraiths of the forest 
were still here despite the subzero weather 
was reassuring. But as I retired to the 
warmth of my cabin the night of March 3, 
I again heard gusts of wind that moaned 
through the woods and shook the cabin. 
Rains pummeled the roof all night. Bone 
dry under three blankets, I wondered how 
the kinglets were faring, being drenched in 
the open or whipped by the wind as they 
huddled under some spruce bough. 

When I awoke the next morning realiz- 
ing that there was still at least a month of 
winter to go, I heard the trees creaking. 
They were glazed in ice. The freezing rain 
continued throughout the day; the tree 
limbs drooped lower and lower until many 
came crashing down to the ground. Would 
the birds still be there next week? 

On March 17, I was finally reassured 
that they would again populate the sum- 
mer woods. The sun shone, and the snow, 
still two feet deep in some spots, was heav- 
ily crusted and easy to walk on. Wood- 
peckers drummed, and two ravens ca- 
reened in a wild chase over the valley. 
Then I heard the song of a golden-crowned 
kinglet, a rapid cascade of a dozen pure, 
vibrant notes crammed into a mere second 
and repeated six to nine times a minute. 
The kinglet knew that the time for 
courtship had returned. Despite early 
April snowstorms, the kinglets' deep nest 
cups of fine moss and lichens, cobwebs, 
and snowshoe hare fur would again be 
made high in the spruce boughs and filled 
with two layers of tiny eggs. 

Bemd Heinrich, a professor of zoology at 
the University of Vermont, is spending a 
year studying wildlife in the Maine woods. 
His latest book, The Hot-Blooded Insects: 
Mechanisms and Evolution of Ther- 
moregulation, will be published this 
spring by Harvard University Press. 

^^^ American Museum of Natural History 


RediscoueRirig Russia 

and the Baltics 

June 14.-3,9. 199S 


, . , 'Gdansli Kalingrad 
'Lubeck Rugen POLAND RUSSIA 


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Tffls View of Life 

Cordelia's Dilemma 

Silence, though usually undervalued, can be golden 
by Stephen Jay Gould 

While Goneril and Regan jockey for 
their father's wealth by proclaiming their 
love for him in false and fulsome tones, 
Lear's third daughter, Cordelia, fears the 
accounting that her father will soon de- 
mand: "What shall Cordelia do? Love, and 
be silent... since, I am sure, my love's 
more ponderous than my tongue." 

Lear then forces Cordelia into this game 
of ever more elaborate professions of love: 
"What can you say to draw a third more 
opulent than your sisters?" When the hon- 
orable Cordelia, refusing to play falsely 
for gain, says nothing, Lear cuts her off 
from all inheritance, proclaiming that 
"nothing will come of nothing." 

Lear's tragic error, which shall lead to 
blinding, madness, and death, hes in not 
recognizing that silence — overt nothing — 
can embody the deepest and most impor- 
tant meaning of all. What, in all our his- 
tory and literature, has been more eloquent 
than the silence of Jesus before Pilate, or 
Saint Thomas More's date with the heads- 
man because he acknowledged that fealty 
forbade criticism of Henry VUl's marriage 
to Anne Boleyn, but maintained, literally 
to the death, his right to remain silent and 
not to approve? 

The importance of negative results — 
nature's apparent silence or nonacquies- 
cence to our expectations — is also a major 
concern in science. Of course, scientists 
acknowledge the vitality of a negative out- 
come and often try to generate such a re- 
sult actively — as in trying to disprove a 
colleague's favored hypothesis. But the 
prevalence of negative results does pose 
an enormous, and largely unaddressed, 
problem in the reporting of scientific infor- 
mation. 1 do not speak of fraud, cover-up. 

finagling, or any other manifestation of 
pathological science (although such phe- 
nomena exist at a frequency that, in all 
honesty, we just do not know). I refer, 
rather, to the all too wonderfully human 
love of a good tale — and to our simple and 
utterly reasonable tendency to shun the in- 
conclusive and the boring. 

The great bulk of daily scientific work 
never sees the light of a pubhshed day 
(and who would wish for changes here, as 
the ever-increasing glut of journals makes 
keeping up in one's own field impossible 
and exploration of others inconceivable?). 
Truly false starts are deposited in circular 
files — fair enough. But experiments fully 
carried forth and leading to negative re- 
sults end up, all too often, unpublished in 
manila folders within steel-drawer files, 
known only to those who did the work and 
quickly forgotten even by them. We all 
know that thousands of novels, considered 
substandard by their authors, lie in draw- 
ers throughout the world. Do we also un- 
derstand that even more experiments with 
negative results fill scientific cabinets? 

Positive results, on the other hand, tell 
interesting stories and are usually written 
up for publication. Consequently, the 
available literature may present a strongly 
biased impression of efficacy and 
achieved understanding. Such biases, pro- 
duced by the underreporting of negative 
results, do not only permeate the arcana 
and abstractions of academic science. Se- 
rious, even tragic, practical consequences 
often ensue. For example, spectacular 
medical claims for the efficacy of certain 
treatments (particularly for chronic and 
fatal illnesses like cancer and AIDS) may 
be promulgated after a single positive re- 

sult (often obtained in a study based upon 
a very small sample). Later and larger 
studies may all fail to duphcate the posi- 
tive results, effectively disproving the 
value of the treatment. But these subse- 
quent negative results often appear only in 
highly technical journals read by more re- 
stricted audiences and, as nonstories, do 
not so readily attract the attention of the 
media — and people may continue to 
squander hope and waste precious time 
following useless procedures. 

Statistics often get a bum rap in our ep- 
ithets and editorials. But I am both a cham- 
pion and a frequent user of statistical pro- 
cedures, for the science exists largely to 
identify and root out hopes and mispercep- 
tions falsely read into numerical data. Sta- 
tistics can tell us when published numbers 
Only point to the probabihty of a negative 
result, even though we, in our hopes, have 
mistakenly conferred a positive interpreta- 
tion. But statistics cannot rescue us when 
we hide our nonlights under a bushel (with 
apologies to Matthew 5:15) — that is, when 
we only pubhsh positive results and con- 
sign our probable negativities to non- 
scrutiny in our file drawers. 

I had thought about this problem a great 
deal (especially when writing The Mis- 
measure of Man), but I had not realized 
that this special sort of bias had both a 
name and a small literature devoted to its 
weighty problems, until I came upon a 
paper by Colin B. Begg and Jesse A. 
Berlin entitied "Pubhcation bias: a prob- 
lem in interpreting medical data" {Journal 
of the Royal Statistical Society, vol. 151, 

Begg and Berlin begin their paper with 
a wonderful quotation from Sir Francis- 

10 Natural History 2/93 

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Bacon (The Advancement of Learning, 
1605) on the tendency to publish only pos- 
itive results that tell good stories: 

For as knowledges are now delivered, there 
is a kind of contract of error between the de- 
liverer and the receiver; for he that deliv- 
ereth knowledge desireth to deliver it in 
such form as may be best believed, and not 
as may be best examined; and he that re- 
ceiveth knowledge desireth rather present 
satisfaction than expectant inquiry. 

Begg and Berlin then cite several docu- 
mented cases of publication bias. We can 
hardly doubt, for example, that a correla- 
tion exists between socioeconomic status 
and academic achievement, but the 
strength and nature of this association rep- 
resent important information for both po- 
litical practice and social theory. A 1982 
study by K. R. White revealed a progres- 
sively increasing intensity of correlation 
with the prestige and permanence of the 
published source. Studies published in 
books reported an average correlation co- 

efficient of 0.51 between academic 
achievement and socioeconomic status; 
articles in journals gave an average of 
0.34, while unpublished studies yielded a 
value of 0.24. Similarly, in a 1986 article, 
A. Coursol and E. E. Wagner found publi- 
cation bias both in the decision to submit 
an article at all, and in the probability of its 
acceptance. In a survey of outcomes in 
psychotherapy, they found that 82 percent 
of studies with positive results lead to sub- 
mission of papers to a journal, while only 
43 percent of negative outcomes provoked 
an attempt at pubUcation. Of papers sub- 
mitted, 80 percent reporting positive out- 
comes were accepted for publication, ver- 
sus only 50 percent of papers claiming 
negative results. 

My favorite study of publication bias is 
the book-length Myths of Gender by Anne 
Fausto-Sterling, a unique and important 
contribution to the literature of feminism 
for this reason. In tabulating claims in the 
literamre for consistent differences in cog- 

"Dr. Montauk forgot the knockout shots.' 

nitive and emotional styles of men and 
women, Fausto-Sterling does not deny 
that genuine differences often exist, and in 
the direction conventionally reported. But 
she then, so to speak, surveys her col- 
leagues' file drawers for studies not pub- 
lished, or for negative results published 
and then ignored, and often finds that a 
great majority report either a smaller and 
insignificant disparity between sexes or 
find no differences at all. When all studies, 
those not published as well as those pub- 
lished, are collated, the much-vaunted dif- 
ferences often devolve into triviaUty. Nat- 
ural history, after all (as I have argued so 
often in these essays), is preeminently a 
study of relative frequency, not of absolute 
yeses or noes, ff a claim based on pub- 
lished literature states that "women in all 
studies strongly..." — and the addition of 
unpubUshed data changes that claim to "in 
a minority of studies, a weak effect sug- 
gests that women. . ." — then meaning is ef- 
fectively reversed (even though positive 
outcomes, when rarely found, show a con- 
sistent direction.) 

For example, a recent favorite in pop 
psychology (although waning of late, I 
think), has attributed different cognitive 
styles in men and women to the less later- 
alized brains of women (less specializa- 
tion between right and left hemispheres of 
the cerebral cortex). Some studies have in- 
deed reported a small effect of greater 
male lateraUzation; none has found more 
lateralized brains in women. But most ex- 
periments, Fausto-Sterling found, de- 
tected no measurable differences in later- 
alization — and this is the dominant 
relative frequency (even in published Uter- 
ature) that should be prominently re- 
ported, but tends to be ignored as "no 

Publication bias is serious enough in its 
promotion of a false impression based on a 
small and skewed subset of the total num- 
ber of studies. But at least the right ques- 
tions are being asked and negative results 
can be conceptualized and obtained — 
even if they then tend to be massively un- 
derreported. But consider the far more in- 
sidious problem closer to Cordelia's 
dilemma with her father: what if our con- 
ceptual world excludes the possibiUty of 
acknowledging a negative result as a phe- 
nomenon at all? What if we simply can't 
see, or even think about, a different and 
meaningful alternative? 

Cordelia's plight is a dilemma in the lit- 
eral sense — a choice between two equally 
undesirable alternatives: she either re- 
mains honorable, says nothing, and incurs 

12 Natural History 2/93 


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her father's wrath; or she plays an inunoral 
game to dissemble and win his affection. 
She tumbles into this plight because Lear 
cannot conceptualize the proposition that 
Cordelia's silence might signify her 
greater love — that nothing can be the 
biggest something. 

Cordelia's dilemma is deeper and more 
interesting than publication bias, as we 
glimpse the constraining role of neurolog- 
ical, social, and psychological condition- 
ing in our struggle to grasp this complex 
universe into which we have been so re- 
cently thrust. Publication bias is only a 
guard at the party door giving passage to 
those with the right stamp on their hands. 
At least the guard can see all the people 
and make his unfair decisions. Those re- 
jected can gripe, foment revolution, or 
start a different party. The victims of 
Cordelia's dilemma are "unpersoned" in 
the most Orwellian sense. They are resi- 
dents in the last gulag in inaccessible 
Siberia, the last outpost of Ultima Thule. 
They are not conceptualized and therefore 
do not exist as available explanations. 

These two forms of nonreporting have 
different solutions. Publication bias de- 
mands, for its correction, an explicit com- 
mitment to report negative results that ap- 
pear less interesting or more inconclusive 
than the "good story" of positive out- 
comes. The solution to Cordelia's 
dilemma — the promotion of her nothing to 
a meaningful something — cannot be re- 
solved from within, for the existing theory 
has defined her action as a denial or non- 
phenomenon. A different theory must be 
imported from another context to change 
conceptual categories and make her re- 
sponse meaningful. In this sense, 
Cordelia's dilemma best illustrates the dy- 
namic interaction of theory and fact in sci- 
ence. Correction of error cannot always 
arise from new discovery within an ac- 
cepted conceptual system. Sometimes the 
theory has to give first, and a new frame- 
work be adopted, before the crucial facts 
can be seen at all. We needed to suspect | 
that evolution might be true in order to see 
variation among individuals in a popula- 
tion as the dynamic stuff of historical 
change and not as trivial or accidental de- 
viation from a created archetype. 

I am especially interested in CordeUa's 
dilemma, and its resolution by using new 
theories to promote previously ignored 
phenomena to conceivability and interest, 
because the "main event" of my early ca- 
reer included an example that taught me a 
great deal about the operations of science. 
Before Niles Eldredge and I proposed the 

theory of punctuated equilibrium in 1972, 
the stasis, or nonchange. of most fossil 
species during their lengthy geological 
lifespans was tacitly acknowledged by all 
paleontologists, but almost never studied 
explicitly because prevailing theory 
treated stasis as uninteresting none\idence 
for nonevolution. E\"olution was defined 
as gradual transformation in extended fos- 
sil sequences, and the overwhelming 
prevalence of stasis became an embarrass- 
ing feature of the fossil record, best left ig- 
nored as a manifestation of nothing (that 
is, nonevolution). 

My own thesis advisor had mastered 
statistics in the hopes of detecting a subtle 
gradualism that was not visually evident in 
fossil sequences. He applied his tech- 
niques to some fifty brachiopod lineages 
in Silurian rocks of the Michigan Basin, 
found no evidence for gradual change (but 
stasis in all Uneages with one ambiguous 
exception), considered his work a disap- 
pointment not even worth publishing, and 
left the field soon thereafter (for a brilliant 
career in another domain of geology, so 
our loss was their gain). 

But Eldredge and I proposed that stasis 
should be an expected and interesting 
norm, and that evolution should be con- 

centrated in brief episodes of branching 
speciation. Under our theory, stasis be- 
came interesting and worthy of documen- 
tation — as the norm that rare events of 
change disrupt. We took as the motto of 
punctuated equilibrium; stasis is data. 
(One might quibble about the grammar, 
but I think we won the conceptual battle.) 

Punctuated equilibrium is stiU a subject 
of lively debate, and some (or most) of its 
claims may end up on the ash heap of his- 
tory, but I take pride in one success rele- 
vant to Cordelia's dilemma: our theory has 
brought stasis out of the conceptual closet. 
Twent}'-fi\'e years ago. stasis was a non- 
subject — a "nothing" under prevailing 
theory. No one would ha\e pubhshed. or 
even proposed, an acti\e study of hneages 
known not to change. Now such studies 
are routinely made and published, and we 
have a burgeoning literature to document 
the character and extent of stasis in quanti- 
tative terms. 

Punctuated equilibrium is a theory 
about the origin and history of species. 
That is. the stabilit)' of individual species 
represents the "nothing" that our theory 
emphasized to attract the attention of re- 
searchers. A different kind of "nothing" 
permeates, and also biases, our considera- 

tion of the next most inclusive level of 
evolutionary stories — the history of 
phyletic bushes, or groups of species shar- 
ing a common ancestry: the evolution of 
horses, of dinosaurs, of humans, for ex- 
ample. This literature is dominated by the 
study of trends — directional changes 
through time in a\erage characteristics of 
species within the bush. Trends surely 
exist in abundance, and they do form the 
stuiT of conventional good stories. Brain 
size does increase in the human bush: and 
toes do get fewer, and bodies bigger, as we 
move up the bush of horses. 

But the \ast majoritv' of bushes display 
no persistent trends through time. All pa- 
leontologists know this, but fev\' would 
e\er think of acti\'ely studying a bush with 
no directional growth. We accept that the 
history of continents and oceans presents 
no progressi\e pattern most of the time — 
"the seas come in and the seas go out" in 
an old chche of geology teachers from 
time immemorial. But we expect life's 
bushes to grow toward the fight, to tell 
some story of direction change. If they do 
not, we do not feature them in our stud- 
ies — if we even manage to see them at aU. 
We cannot accept for life the preacher's 
assessment of earthly time (Ecclesiastes 

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1:9): "The thing that hath been, it is that 
which shall be; and that which is done, is 
that which shall be done; and there is no 
new thing under the sun." 

Yet we must study bushes with no 
prominent directional change if we are to 
gain any proper sense of the full range and 
character of life's history. Even if we be- 
lieve (and I will confess to holding this 
conventional bias myself) that trends, 
however rare, are the most interesting of 
phyletic phenomena — for they do supply 
the direction that makes evolution a 
pageant rather than a tableau — we still 
need to know the relative frequency of 
nonprogressive evolution, if only to grasp 
the prevailing substrate from which rare 

trendiness builds interesting history. How 
can we claim to understand evolution if we 
only study the percent or two of phenom- 
ena that construct life's directional history 
and leave the vast field of straight-growing 
bushes — the story of most lineages most 
of the time — in a limbo of conceptual 

I see some happy signs of redress, as pa- 
leontologists are now beginning to study 
this higher order stasis, or nondirectional 
history of entire bushes. An excellent and 
path-breaking case has just been published 
by Ann F. Budd and Anthony G. Coates in 
our leading trade journal, Paleobiology 
(vol. 18, 1992, pp. 425-46): "Nonprogres- 
sive evolution in a clade of Cretaceous 


"Good morning Doctor Heinz. ■ .Professor Kiibo is on the phone. He says the 

experiment tipped itself over, broke out the west wing of the laboratory and is headed 

for the city. . . . Your poached eggs are served out on the patio." 

Montastraea-like corals." Budd and 
Coates state their aim in their introduction, 
and I could not agree more: 

Just as the study of stasis within species has 
facilitated understanding of morphologic 
change associated with speciation, we show 
that study of nonprogressive evolution of- 
fers valuable insight into how the causes of 
trends interact and thereby produce com- 
plex evolutionary patterns within clades 
[evolutionary bushes], regardless of their 
overall direction. 

Montastraea is a genus of massive colo- 
nial reef-building corals, still important in 
our modern faunas (many readers un- 
doubtedly have a chunk of Montastraea 
on their mantle pieces). Budd and Coates 
studied the earher history of the Montas- 
traea bush during the long span of Creta- 
ceous time — some 80 million years dura- 
tion, and representing the last period of 
dinosaurian domination on land. They 
found little evidence of directional 
change, but rather a story of oscillation 
within a range set by minimal and maxi- 
mal size of corallites (individual coral ani- 
mals within the colony). At one end, 
"large-coralUte" species (3.5-8.0 imn in 
diameter) are more efficient in removal of 
sediment and tend to be more common in 
regions of turbid water; at the other end, 
"small-corallite" species (2.0-3.5 mm in 
diameter) tend to dominate in clearer wa- 
ters near the reef crest. In addition, large- 
corallite species tend to feed actively on 
small planktonic animals, while small- 
corallite species derive more nutrition di- 
rectiy from the zooxanthellae (photosyn- 
thetic algae) that Uve symbiotically within 
their tissues. 

Budd and Coates conjecture that coral- 
lite diameters may be held within these 
limits by some ecological or developmen- 
tal constraint at the low end (implying that 
still smaller corallites could neither de- 
velop nor function adequately) and by a 
limit to the number of septa at the high 
end. (Septa are the radiating series of 
plates that form the skeletal framework for 
a coralhte. The "astraea" in Montastraea 
refers to the star-shaped pattern of these 
radiating septa in cross section.) The size 
of corallites might be limited if new septa 
could not form beyond a certain number — 
although this argument is frankly specula- 
tive. If such constraints limit the domain 
of corallite form, and if each end enjoys 
advantages in different environments al- 
ways available in some parts of the geo- 
graphic range, then evolution might just 
oscillate back and forth, with no persistent 
directional component through time. 

16 Natural History 2/93 

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Budd and Coates found just such an os- 
cillation, hence their well-chosen title of 
"nonprogressive evolution." They divided 
the Cretaceous into four intervals and then 
traced the pattern of species changes 
through these times (most of their long 
paper presents technical details of defining 
species and inferring genealogical connec- 
tions among them). They found that the 
transition from interval one to interval two 
featured a differential production of small- 
coralUte species from large-corallite an- 
cestors and a southward spread of the 
bush's geographic range. "Limited specia- 
tion and stasis" then predominated within 
intervals two and three. Later, between in- 
tervals three and four, large-corallite spe- 
cies tended to radiate from small-corallite 
ancestors as the bush became restricted in 
range to the Caribbean. The end, in other 
words, did not leave the bush very differ- 
ent from its beginnings — the seas came in 

and the seas went out, and Montastmea 
oscillated between prevalence of small- 
and large-corallite species within its re- 
stricted range. And so it goes for most 
groups in most long segments of geologi- 
cal time — lots of evolutionary change, but 
no story of clear and persistent direction. 
I do feel the force of Cordelia's di- 
lemma as I write these words. Budd and 
Coates's article inspired me to write this 
essay. Yet my description of their results 
occupies only a small portion of this text 
because nondirectional evolution doesn't 
provide the stories that stir our blood and 
incite our interest. This is the bias of liter- 
ary convention that we must struggle to 
overcome. How can we interest ourselves 
sufficiendy in the ordinary and the quotid- 
ian? Nearly all of our life so passes nearly 
all the time (and thank goodness for that, 
lest we all be psychological basket cases). 
Shall we not find fascination in the earth's 


daily doings? And how can we hope to un- 
derstand the rarer moments that manufac- 
ture history's pageant if we do not recog- 
nize and revel in the pervasive substrate? 
No one has illustrated the dilemma bet- 
ter than CordeUa and Lear themselves, in 
their last appearance as prisoners in act 5, 
scene 3. They are about to be taken away 
and Lear, through the veil of madness, 
speaks of forthcoming time in jail, made 
aknost delightful by the prospect of telling 
stories in the heroic and directional mode: 

Come, let's away to prison: we'll five. 

And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, 

and laugh 
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor 

Talk of court news; and we'll talk with 

them too. 
Who loses and who wins, who's in, and 

who's out; 
And take upon's the mystery of things. 
As if we were God's spies: and we'll 

wear out 
In a walled prison, packs and sects of 

great ones 
That ebb and flow by the moon. 

Sean O' Casey said that "the stage must 
be larger than life," for how can we make 
adequate drama from the daily doings of 
shopping, eating, sleeping, and urinating 
(in no particular order). If this be so, then 
our biases in storytelling augur poorly for 
an adequate account of life's real history, 
for how shall we ever promote the "noth- 
ing" that surrounds us to adequate fascina- 
tion for notice and documentation? But 
then, one of O'Casey's countrymen solved 
this problem in the greatest novel of the 
twentieth century. James Joyce's Ulysses 
treats one day in the life of a few ordinary 
people in 1904, yet no work of literature 
has ever taught us more about the nature of 
humanity and the structure of thought. 
May I then close with a kind of literary 
sacrilege and borrow the famous last line 
of Ulysses for a totally different purpose. 
Molly Bloom, in her celebrated soliloquy, 
is, of course, speaking of something en- 
tirely different! But her words make a 
good answer to a pledge we should all 
take: Shall I promise to pay attention to the 
httle, accumulating events of daily life and 
not treat them as nothing against the rare 
and grandiose moments of history? "yes I 
said yes I will Yes." 

Stephen Jay Gould teaches biology, geol- 
ogy, and the history of science at Harvard 

1 8 Natural History 2/93 

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Science Lite 

Of Light Bulbs and 
Shaggy Dogs 

Is laughter a universal language? 

by Roger L. Welsch 

Ask any American, especially one 
younger than fifty, to tell you a joke today, 
and you will almost certainly get a short 
question that has a short, funny answer. 
That's the modem idea of a joke. How 
many psychiatrists does it take to screw in 
a Ught bulb? (One, but he really has to 
want to.) Why did the chicken cross the 
road? (To see a man lay a brick.) That sort 
of thing. 

Seventy-five years ago (and leaving 
aside tall tales), a joke was understood to 
be a narrative told in such a way that it ex- 
cited laughter, often as much in the man- 
ner of its telling as in its conclusion. Jokes 
in the first half of this century could be as 
long as five or ten minutes and were often 
funny by virtue of the dialect — real or 
imagined — in which the tale was told: 
Irish, German, southern English, rural 

A typical example of the genre (in an 
exaggerated rural drawl) went like this: 

This hyar farmer goes to the big city 
and he tells his hired man Buford that he's 
a-gonna be in charge of everything for a 
couple o' days so he should do what he 
can to keep everything under control. This 
hyar farmer goes through a long list o' 
chores for ol' Buford, ending up with a 
long warning that he should be especially 
careful to keep an eye on the farmer's fa- 
vorite pet cat. 

The farmer rings Buford up on the party 
line the next day asks how things are doing 
on the farm and Buford blurts out, "Boss, 
your cat done died." 

"Oh no! What a blow! That's tenible!" 
the farmer gasps. "My God, Man, couldn't 
you have used a little diplomacy and com- 
passion and broke the bad news to me 
kinda gentle-like? Oh, this is terrible 
news! Terrible!" 

The hired man mumbles around a while 
and finally asks the farmer what he means 

by this diplomacy and compassion stuff. 
"Well, you should-a started off sort of 
easy, by telling me maybe that the cat got 
stuck up on the roof, and that you tried to 
get her down, and that she fell, and was 
badly hurt, and later, mercifully, passed 

The hired man assured him that he now 
understood and would be more careful in 
the future. "Fine," said the farmer. "Tell 
me, how did the cat die?" 

"Well," the hired man says, "she was 
run over by one of the fire trucks." 

"Fire trucks?" the farmer stuttered. 
"What fire trucks?" 

"The ones that came to put out the fire 
in the bam." 


"Well, it took hold when the fire swept 
in from the com field." 


"The one that started when the tractor 

By this time, of course, the farmer is 
completely distraught — sobbing, gasping, 
sputtering. "What about my wife? Is she 
all right? How is she taking all this?" 

There is a long pause from the other end 
of the telephone, and then the hired man 
begins tentatively, "Well, sir, your wife, 
she was stuck up there on the roof and. . ." 

Not very many Americans today are 
willing to sit still and listen to a long story, 
no matter how funny it is. These days a 
joke is one or two set-up lines and a punch 
line, and that's it: Did you hear they found 
Jimmy Hoffa? (Under Tammi Faye 
Bakker's make-up!) Want to double the 
value of your Yugo? (Fill the gas tank.) 

The only long story one hears today is 
the shaggy dog story, or "groaner" — a 
painfully long story that concludes with a 
painful pun. It is a parody of a joke, too 
long, and not all that funny, the exact op- 

posite of what a joke in 1992 "ought to 
be." I have shortened up the following 
story just to lessen the pain, so try to imag- 
ine it told with a lot more detail, the narra- 
tor pausing now and then to laugh at his 
own goofy joke: 

Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre 
Dame, decides that he has been working 
far too hard far too long and that he needs 
a vacation. He goes to the priest of the 
cathedral, but the priest explains that 
everyone who comes to the famous 
church expects to see the famous Quasi- 
modo. No substitute will do, unless Mr. Q. 
can find an exact double for a temporary 

Quasimodo goes out to walk the streets 
of Paris to think about the problem and 
damed if he doesn't mn into a guy who is 
his exact mirror image. Quasimodo is ec- 
static, of course, and explains his 
dilemma. The other guy agrees to take the 
job for a few weeks, if only the Master 
himself will teach him how to ring the 
great bells in the cathedral tower. 

Quasimodo takes his replacement to the 
tower and demonstrates his technique: he 
takes a long, powerful, leaping mn and 
smashes his head into one of the bells, 
which rings with impressive resonance. 
BA-WONG!!! The new guy decides it 
shouldn't be much of a problem, so he 
takes a mn and bangs his head into the 
bell. Nothing. Just a dull thud. CLUNK! 

"Maybe you need a longer mn," Quasi- 
modo suggests. So the replacement ringer 
takes a longer mn. Still nothing. THUD! 
He takes an even longer mn and shows a 
little improvement. Finally the guy really 
backs up, backs up, backs up... and falls 
over the railing, down, down, down, and 
smashes onto the cathedral steps far 

Tourists msh up to see what has hap- 
pened and find the poor man cmmpled in a 

20 Natural History 2/93 

American Museum of Natural History 


Bergen to 

Spitsbergen, Norway 

June 30 - July 15, 1993 

The Norwegian Arctic is a spectacular 
area renowned for its breathtaking 
landscapes. This summer, a team of 
American Museum experts, sailing 
aboard the comfortable Polaris, will 
explore a region characterized by fjords, 
glaciers, mountains icebergs and ice floes. 

Beginning in Bergen, we will sail north along the coast of Norway, visiting spectacular Geirangerfjord, 
the mountainous Lofoten Islands and mist-shrouded Bear Island. Our final destination is Spitsbergen, a 
spectacular group of ice-covered islands just 625 miles from the North Pole. Join us as we search for 
polar bear, walrus, seal, reindeer, Arctic fox, orca, sperm whale and numerous species of birds beyond 
the North Cape. 

Museum of 
Discovery Cruises 

Central Park West at 79th Street 

New York, NY 10024-5192 

Toll-free (800) 462-8687 or 

in NYS (212) 769-5700 

Rediscover Your World 

heap, dead as a doornail. "Who is this guy 
anyway?" one asks. 

"I don't know," a second says. "His face 
sure doesn't ring a bell." 

"Maybe not," opines a third. "But he's a 
dead ringer for Quasimodo." 

See why they are called "groaners?" 
And that's one of the funny ones! 

Not only has the style of American 
humor changed over the past century, so 
too has its content. For example, fifty years 
ago jokes with even the most modest sex- 
ual content were considered obscene and 
were restricted to word-of-mouth or were 
privately published in narrowly-circulated 
pulp magazines and books. Blatantly sex- 
ist and ethnically or racially offensive ma- 
terials, on the other hand, were openly 
pubhshed: Pat and Mike, Hans and Fritz, 
Rastus and Mandy — glaring stereotypes 
that would astound the modem reader — 
appeared in magazines easily available at 
any magazine counter. Now that pattern is 
practically reversed: sexual materials are 
defended as an expression of free speech, 
but sexist, racist, and ethnically offensive 
slurs are considered nearly obscene. 

Although they are now frowned upon, 
however, ethnic and similar jokes have not 
died out. They are widely told and even 
published, and evidently fill an important 
need. Most humor scholars agree that we 
laugh at those things that trouble us, 
frighten us, concern us most. If you as- 
sume that premise is generally true, social 
analysis becomes pretty easy. And a little 
unsettling. The explosion of "Polack" sto- 
ries — brief, question-and-answer insults 

toward American Poles (and later, and 
even more uncomfortably, toward native 
Poles) — sprang from the growing insecu- 
rity of middle-class, white-collar workers 
in the Chicago-Gary area as blue-collar 
workers with names like Chelewski, 
Brynyzki, and Lukasiewz began to move 
up the economic ladder and occupy posi- 
tions traditionally held by people with 
names like McGuire and Bauer. How can 
you tell which one is the bride at a Polack 
wedding? (She's the one with the clean 
bowling shirt.) Why doesn't a Polack 
make a good poker player? (Every time he 
gets a spade, he spits in his hands.) Get the 
point? The guy with the long name and no 
vowels can't even do labor right and now 
he wants to be a supervisor, the reasoning 
seems to go. 

It's nothing new. The McGuires and 
Bauers had gone through the same sort of 
cultural hazing when the "Micks" and 
"Krauts" were clawing their way up that 
same slippery ladder earlier in the century, 
and in the previous century. I said above 
that these indicators can be unsetding. 1 
don't have any trouble with such open la- 
beling of those who are on the way up; 
what is unsettling is the unconscious soul- 
baring by those who tell the jokes, those 
who are threatened. 

The safest butt of humor these days is 
ourselves, and that has opened a some- 
what acceptable path to the ethnic joke. 
The objects of such insults and slurs may 
be offended and hostile for a while but 
then a peculiar thing begins to happen: Be- 
fore long the targets of the ethnic insults 


begin to tell the jokes themselves! As a 
white, I may be in trouble for suggesting 
there are peculiarities of black culture, but 
blacks can tell jokes about black culture. 

Linda, my Catholic, Bohemian wife, 
can say that the only problem with being a 
Bohemian Catholic is that as a Cathohc 
she has only six "safe" days a month but as 
a Bohemian she forgets which days they 
are; but this German Lutheran male is re- 
stricted to reporting the line as hers. So 
blondes tell blonde jokes, homosexuals tell 
homosexual jokes, and blonde, homosex- 
ual orphans tell blonde, homosexual or- 
phan stories. Pretty soon what was once a 
cruel insult becomes a banner of ethnic 
pride. For good Ole and Lena stories, one 
goes to Norwegian communities in the 
Dakotas or Minnesota, where a promise of 
"a new joke" is understood to mean a new 
Ole and Lena story. 

Metafolklore is folklore about folklore; 
in this example, we have an Ole and Lena 
story about Ole and Lena stories: 

Ole likes to tell them Ole and Lena sto- 
ries but now and then he offends some of 
his Norwegian countrymen. One day the 
Lutheran preacher takes Ole aside and 
tells him he should be a little more diplo- 
matic about them stories and maybe even 
do what the preacher himself does. When- 
ever he wants to use a Norwegian story or 
a Polack or Bohunk joke, he changes the 
name of the group over to some ancient 
biblical people like the Hittites, so's he can 
avoid any problem of offending someone. 
Ole thanks him for the advice and 
promises to use the idea the next time a 
chance comes up, and sure enough, that 
night in the town tavern, the boys get to 
telling stories, and so when Ole's turn 
comes around he remembers what the 
preacher told him and he starts off, "Okay, 
there was these two Hittites... named Ole 
and Lena, and they was going to Fargo one 

When I taught folklore at the University 
of Nebraska, I asked my students to keep 
journals in which they recorded whatever 
folklore that they saw around them on a 
day-to-day basis. Throughout the sixties 
and early seventies, men's journals were 
full of pointedly sexist humor aimed at the 
feminist movement. In the early eighties 
women began to record in their journals 
jokes about the feminist movement. By 
the end of the eighties, the funniest, most 
perceptive jokes about women and the 
feminist movement were written in jour- 
nals submitted by women. The women's 
movement (or at least a portion of it) was 
approaching maturity. 

22 Natural History 2/93 





From the renowned collections of the 
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Written by ANNA S. SOFIANIDES, an Associate in 
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Chairman of the Department of Mineral Sciences 
and Curator of Gems and Minerals at the 
American Museum. 9 .x 12, 208pp 



A Train Journey in China 

May 7-21, 1993 

More than 2,000 
years ago, cara- 
vans of mer- 
chants first be- 
gan to travel 
along the ancient 
Silk Road, a great 
overland trade 
route from east- 
ern China to the 

doorstep of Europe. Join a team of lectur- 
ers from the American Museum for an 
extraordinary journey by private train as 
we trace the paths of the ancient traders 
who forever transformed the cultures of 
both East and West. For today's traveler, 
the intrigue of the Silk Road lies not only 
in its historical significance, but also in 
the complex diversity of customs, scen- 
ery and fascinating sites seldom seen by 
Westerners. Making our way across great 
deserts, plains and mountain passes, we 
will travel over 2,000 miles from Beijing 
to Urumchi, stopping along the way at 
ancient caravansaries of the Silk Road, 
including Xian, Lanzhou, Dunhuang and 
Turfan, with an optional extension to 

Museum of 

Discovery Tours 

Central Park West at 79th St. 

New York, kv 10024-5192 

Toll-free (800) 462-8687 

or In NYS (212) 769-5700 

This too is an old process. A very old 
form of European folk tale is the numskull 
story, a form of story that centers on the al- 
leged stupidity of the citizens of some 
community or another — in England the 
numskull community is Gotham, in Ger- 
many it's Schildau, and in Denmark it's 
the peninsula of Mol: 

A Molbo was about to load his wagon 
with bricks. He looked at the first brick, 
put it on his wagon, and said to his old 
horse, "Well, if you can carry that one, I 
guess you can carry this one." And he put 
another brick on the wagon. "And if you 
can carry that one, you can carry this one." 
Another brick. And so on, until the wagon 
was groaning and sinking into the soil 
under the weight of tons of bricks. The 
horse couldn't budge the wagon, of 
course. The poor Molbo looked at his situ- 
ation and with a sigh took a brick from the 
load. "If you can't carry that one, then I 
don't suppose you can carry this one," he 
said, removing another brick. "And if you 
can't carry that one, I don't suppose you 
can carry this one," and so he continued 

on until the wagon was once again empty. 

Such stories, originally insults, have 
been embraced by the community as a dis- 
tinctive and favorable part of the village's 
history and heritage. The traditional expla- 
nation in most villages famous for their 
stupidity is that for centuries the popula- 
tion was under constant attack and the cit- 
izens carried off as prisoners because they 
were famous for their wisdom, and cap- 
tives of Mol (or Schildau, or Gotham) 
were prized by other, less-gifted nations as 
advisors and teachers. The folk theory 
continues that the alleged stupidity of the 
citizens is actually an artful sham, prac- 
ticed to conceal an extraordinary commu- 
nity intellect. 

Humor is important in America today. 
On a personal level, it defines our success 
at being human beings. No pejorative is 
more telling than "humorless." A graduate 
student once said in my literature seminar 
that the single most important character 
trait in a young person today is to be inter- 
esting. That struck me as logical. But then 
he surprised me by explaining, "And 'in- 

teresting' means 'funny.' " Not bright, or 
educated, or experienced, or wise, or 
promising, or ambitious, or serious, or 
dedicated, or traveled, or thoughtful. 

But humor is gender-, culture-, and 
time-specific, a Uving, dynamic organism 
that changes every day in keeping with the 
changes in its social context. Laughter is 
not a universal language, and what one 
group thinks is hilarious can be totally ob- 
scure to another. As a farmer Uving on the 
Plains, I hear jokes and other forms of 
humor that I suspect are quite different 
(but at least equivalent in terms of 
"humor") from those heard by my col- 
leagues in New York City. 

"Last year was so tough, I planted 120 
bushel of seed potatoes, worked the crop 
all summer, and in the fall harvested a 
grand total of exactly 120 bushel of pota- 
toes. 'Course it was my own fault. I could 
have planted more." My impression is that 
the story is funnier here on the rural coun- 
tryside than it might be in the city. The dif- 
ference is not simply a matter of content; 
the biggest difference between rural and 
urban humor is style. The sledgehammer 
style of Joan Rivers is urban humor — 
hard-edged, shocking, not always the sort 
of thing you want your children to hear. 
On the other hand, the humor I hear in the 
small towns and on the farms of the Plains, 
even the ribald humor, is so subtle, you 
aren't always sure when you've heard a 
joke. It is low-profile, ambiguous, and 
when it is overheard by children, they 
aren't at all sure what it is they've heard: 

The other day Jess Abemathy came into 
the tavern all sunshine and roses and Russ 
Powers asked him what had made him so 
joUy. He said that he had taken that old, 
no-good bull of his over to Lyle Rass- 
mussen at the vet chnic in St. Paul and 
Lyle gave him some new-fangled pills he 
thought might do the trick. But Lyle also 
warned Jess to be careful with the pills be- 
cause they were very powerful. Well, Jess 
said he gave his bull just half of one of the 
pills and the bull perked up, took care of 
Jess's herd, jumped the fence and took on 
Dan Leo's herd, and was last seen headed 
east toward Bob Langford's dairy farm. 

Russ Powers said, "Boy, that's some- 
thing, all right. What do you suppose is in 
those pills that makes them so powerful?" 

"I don't know," Jess said. "But they 
taste like peppermint." 

As I said: subtle. 

Folklorist Roger L. Welsch lives on a tree 
farm in Dannebrog, Nebraska. 

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A snowshoe hare's coat changes from summer 
brown to winter white. 

Johnny Johnson 


Unexpected dangers lurk in the Yukon for baby snowshoe hares 
by Mark O'Donoghue and Susan Stuart 

The week-old snowshoe hare huddled 
motionless under the low branches of a 
small spruce. All day, the baby hare, or 
leveret, had hidden in the same spot, its 
soft, mottled brown fur rendering it almost 
invisible — but not completely. Death 
came suddenly from the trees above. In an 
instant, a red squirrel — twice the size of 
the leveret — was upon it. Despite its shrill 
screams and attempts to flee, the young 
hare was soon overpowered. Responding 
to its cries, its mother rushed to the site, 
stomping her feet and clicking her teeth, 
but she arrived too late. The squirrel scam- 
pered up a nearby spruce tree with its prize 
and stashed the carcass in the crook of two 
branches for later consumption. 

Squirrels killing hares? Squirrels have 
certainly been seen raiding bird nests, but 
we knew of no researchers who had noted 
squirrel predation on hares. 

Our study of the ecology of juvenile 
snowshoe hares began in 1989, in 
Canada's Yukon Territory. Our work was 
part of the Kluane Boreal Forest Ecosys- 
tem Project, a cooperative research effort 
of three Canadian universities, whose aim 
is to examine the structure of the verte- 
brate community in the coniferous forests 
of the north. Our i25-square-mile study 
area was typical of boreal habitats found 
across a broad band of Canada, Alaska, 
and Eurasia. Spruce forest, broken occa- 
sionally by small natural clearings and 
aspen stands, dominated the landscape. A 
patchy and often dense understory of wil- 
lows and bog birch provided ideal cover 
for the hares. 

Throughout the northern part of their 

range in Canada and Alaska, snowshoe 
hare demographics undergo dramatic fluc- 
tuations at fairly regular intervals. These 
fluctuations are often referred to as the ten- 
year cycle because the hare populations 
reach very high densities (one to four 
hares per acre) every eight to eleven years, 
almost simultaneously across North 
America. Then, over the next few years, 
hare populations plummet. They fall as 
low as about one hare per 200 acres and 
stay at that level for several years, after 
which the cycle begins again. 

This cycle is central to the functioning 
of the boreal community. As hare numbers 
rise and fall, so do the numbers of their 
predators, although predator numbers gen- 
erally don't begin to decline until a year or 
so after the collapse of the hare population. 
Other boreal herbivore populations, such 
as grouse and squirrels, may also be af- 
fected by changes both in predator num- 
bers and in the amount of food available 
after hare browsing. 

Researchers vary in their explanations 
of why the hare cycle occurs — some sup- 
port a predator-prey cycle, others cite a 
hare-vegetation interaction. All major 
sUidies, however, have noted the same de- 
mographic changes in hare populations 
over the course of the cycle. Whether in 
the Yukon, in Alberta, or in Minnesota, the 
survival rate of juveniles is the single most 
important factor responsible for increases 
or decreases in the hare population. How- 
ever, the rate of juvenile survival meas- 
ured in previous studies was alv,'ays of 
hares older than one month. Younger hares 
were very difficult to find in the field and 


V0 m,. 



^ z 

did not enter the live-traps set by biolo- 
gists. The purpose of our research was to 
determine the survival rates of hares from 
birth through their first days and weeks 
and to investigate their ecology. 

When we started our research, our chal- 
lenge was to locate some leverets. Young 
hares are well camouflaged, and, unlike 
rabbits, which give birth in relatively con- 
spicuous nests or burrows, hares are bom 
in well-concealed depressions, often 

under logs or shrubs. To be certain of hav- 
ing animals to study, we placed pregnant 
female hares in individual pens a few days 
before they were ready to give birth. As 
soon as the hares were bom, we removed 
the pens so that the mothers and young 
could move about freely. We ear-tagged 
850 babies in order to identify them. And, 
to follow the young hares' movements 
more closely, we glued tiny radio transmit- 
ters, weighing approximately one-twenti- 

eth of an ounce, to the fur between the 
shoulder blades of 254 of the 850 hares. 
We followed the leverets around every 
day, noting as they grew how they fared 
during their first weeks of life. 

Snowshoe hares are very prolific. Dur- 
ing the two summers of our study (which 
took place during a period of high hare 
numbers), most of the females produced 
three litters, each with one to nine young. 
A female averaged about twelve young 

28 Natural History 2/93 

per season. Females usually mated again 
on the same day on which they gave birth, 
so the litters were spaced apart only by the 
snowshoe hare's thirty-six-day gestation 

We were able to watch the birth of one 
litter quite closely. Sitting up on her hind 
legs, the doe gave birth to six young, 
cleaned them, and fed them their first 
meal, all in about fifteen minutes. She then 
moved away and did not associate with her 

Newborn hares huddle together beneath a white spruce, left. For 
the first few weeks of life, baby hares lie low, below, relying on 
the camouflage of their mottled brown fiir and on well-concealed 
hiding spots for protection. 

StephPn J Krasemann DRK Photo 

fitter again during the rest of the time that 
they were together in the pen, about ninety 

Unlike rabbits, hares are bom weU-de- 
veloped. They weigh approximately two 
ounces, are fully furred, and open their 
eyes within an hour of birth. They also 
gain coordination quickly and are soon 
mobile enough to crawl into a huddle with 
fiieir siblings. Even before they are a day 
old, they can hop fast enough to make cap- 
turing them quite a challenge. 

Most fitters stayed together at the birth 
site for three to seven days. The amount of 
maternal attention the young hares re- 
ceived during this period varied. Although 
seldom coming close to their fitters, some 
mothers stayed within 50 to 100 feet of 
their young for the entire day and vigor- 
ously chased away red squirrels, ground 
squirrels, and birds that wandered too 
near. Other females stayed completely 
away from their litters during the daytime. 

When the baby hares first venUired out 
from their birth sites, they generally 
moved ten to twenty feet away and hid 
under shrubs, leaves, and logs. Occasion- 
ally we found one or more hiding together, 
but most of the leverets remained alone in 

these concealed spots, even on the first day 
away from their siblings. 

Witfi the help of a colleague, Carita 
Bergman, we kept a round-the-clock 
watch at the birth sites of several mother 
hares to determine how and when their 
young were fed after their fitters had bro- 
ken up. From these observations, and from 
following the radio-tagged animals, we 
learned that in their first couple of weeks 
the leverets usually stayed hidden in their 
individual refuges during the day. Some 
leverets remained in the same hiding 
places, often more than 200 feet away 
from their birth sites and littermates, for 
more than a week. During their first few 
weeks, we observed juveniles nursing 
only once each day, shortly after twilight, 
which — in the long Yukon summer 
days — was usually between midnight and 
1:00 A.M. 

In two of the nursing sessions we ob- 
served, the mother hare hopped through 
the area in which her two young were hid- 
den, about 120 feet from their birth site 
and 90 feet from each other, and made a 
high chirping noise. Then she appeared to 
leave the area. The leverets moved froni 
their hiding places and regrouped at the 

Erwin and Peggy Bauer 

Red squirrels ' appetite for more than seeds and cones is well 
documented. The squirrel below is chewing on the leg bone of an 
adult snowshoe hare, which it probably happened upon 
serendipitously. Deer antlers, right, can also offer a nutritious treat, 
providing calcium and other minerals. 

birth site, where their mother joined them 
thirty minutes later On four other occa- 
sions, the individual leverets gathered at 
their birth sites with no apparent solicita- 
tion from their mother Each time, when 
the mother arrived at the birth site, she 
nursed her young for only about ten min- 
utes before leaving again. By morning, 
each leveret was back in its individual hid- 
ing place. Orrin Rongstad and John Tester, 
both of the University of Minnesota, 
found a similar nursing pattern in 1966 
when observing a single hare litter in Min- 
nesota, as did French and Dutch re- 
searchers studying European hares. The 
European researchers also analyzed hare 
milk and found it to be extremely rich and 
concentrated, which is essential for ani- 
mals that nurse their young so briefly and 

Once the leverets left their birth site, 
they seldom returned except to nurse. On 
one occasion, a litter of three seven-day- 
old leverets regrouped at their sheltered 
"nest" on a rainy day, four days after leav- 
ing it. On another, a radio-tagged leveret 
left its birth site at three days of age and 
was found during the next few days with 
the newbom litter of another female about 

200 feet away. The young hare was 
healthy and gained weight during this 
time, so apparently it was not rejected by 
its "foster" mother While many mammals 
will only care for their own offspring, lep- 
orids (hares and rabbits) may be an excep- 
tion. Researchers studying European hares 
and swamp rabbits have also noted cases 
of females accepting strange young. 

As the young hares grew older, they 
gradually ranged faither from their birth 
sites. By the age of twenty days, their 
home ranges approached those of their 
mothers in size (four to six acres). They 
also began to move more during the day- 
time. Hares younger than two weeks old 
could easily be approached while they re- 
mained motionless in their hiding places, 
but older leverets fled as soon as we got 
within ten to twenty feet of them. Judging 
from their droppings, the leverets had 
begun to feed on grass and other herba- 
ceous plants when ten to fourteen days 
old, but they continued nursing for another 
week or two. After this age, most leverets 
were weaned, and their mothers had an- 
other litter on the way. Juveniles from the 
last litter of the season sometimes nursed 
until they were forty days old, however. 

The first juvenile hares began leaving 
their natal ranges when they were about 
five weeks old. Those that we could follow 
usually moved at least a quarter-mile away 
from their mothers' home range. Only 4 of 
the 850 leverets that we ear-tagged when 
they were newborns settled as adults near 
their birth sites. 

Soon after we started following the 
radio-tagged juveniles, we began to get 

30 Natural History 2/93 

some puzzling results. Many of the lev- 
erets we tagged were killed before they 
were ten days old, and we found almost 
half of the carcasses (80 of the 170 that 
died) in trees or in red squirrel middens. 
Another tenth (18) of the leveret carcasses 
ended up, mostly eaten, in arctic ground 
squirrel burrows. 

Red squirrels were abundant on our 
study area. They constructed large under- 

ground middens around the bases of 
spruce trees where they stored their winter 
supply of spruce cones. The trees standing 
in the middens also typically served as 
sites for the squirrels' nests (irregular 
spheres of grass in the lower branches) and 
additional storage of mushrooms and 
other items they gathered. Ground squir- 
rels were also common, especially in 
small clearings, and their extensive bur- 

row systems dotted the floor of the forest. 
At first, we concluded that these baby 
hares must have died of other causes and 
had then been scavenged by squirrels. We 
knew that both red and ground squiixels 
sometimes fed on carrion to supplement 
their mostly vegetarian diet. As our re- 
search progressed, however, we began to 
suspect that at least some of the carcasses 
must represent predation by the squirrels 

Martin W. Grosnick 

A summer of dining on a variety of 
herbaceous plants leaves a snowshoe 
hare, below, looking plump and well fed. 
In the winter, the hares turn to woody 
plants, such as willow, birch, and white 
spruce, right, for food. 

Stephen J. Krasemann. Photo Researctiers, li 

themselves. For one thing, the numbers of 
stashed hares just kept mounting, beyond 
what seemed reasonable if the squirrels 
were simply scavenging. For another, we 
couldn't think what predator would kill so 
many of the baby hares and then leave 
them around. Coyotes and lynx generally 
leave little behind when feeding on such 
small prey. Two other potential mam- 
malian predators — weasels and martens — 
were scarce on our study site. And birds of 
prey, such as hawks and owls, typically ei- 
ther eat their prey at the spot where they 
made the kill or carry it off to their nests or 
special feeding trees. 

Several observations bolstered our sus- 
picions. During the course of our study, 
other biologists working in the area twice 
observed ground squirrels attacking and 
killing young hares. We also saw one red 
squirrel carrying a hve, wounded leveret, 
and three others running away from 
freshly killed leverets. Just to be sure, 
however, we tested the scavenging effi- 
ciency of squirrels by placing carcasses of 
predator-killed leverets on our study sites. 
The squirrels only scavenged about one- 

quarter of them at the same time (early 
June) that we were finding evidence of 
squirrel predation for more than 85 per- 
cent of the juvenile mortalities. These 
findings, coupled with our observadons of 
mother hares chasing squirrels from their 
litters, gave us strong evidence that both 
red squirrels and ground squirrels were in- 
deed predators of snowshoe hares. 

Over the course of the two summers of 
our smdy, we calculated that only about 

one-third of the baby hares survived the 
first two weeks of life. In the end, we con- 
cluded that of those that died, about three- 
quarters were killed by small mammalian 
predators, most likely red and ground 
squirrels. By contrast, only 5 percent of 
the radio-tagged leverets were killed by 
great-horned owls, northern goshawks, 
and red-tailed hawks — animals generally 
thought of as significant predators of small 
mammals. We have evidence from other 

32 Natural History 2/93 




research being conducted in the area that 
very young hares sometimes wind up 
being gulped down by coyotes and lynx 
and eaten by northern harriers and north- 
em hawk owls. Even gray jays — robin- 
sized birds known as scavengers — have 
been seen kilhng baby hares. 

By the time they are two weeks old, the 
leverets are too big and too fast for the 
smaller, opportunistic predators to catch. 
Until then, however, the best bet for a Utter 

of young hares seems to be to lie low and 
to spUt up as soon as possible, so that if a 
predator does strike, it won't be able to 
feast on an entire Utter. Similarly, the less 
often they nurse, the less Ukely they are to 
be discovered. 

The behavior of young hares and their 
mothers makes a great deal of sense when 
considered as a defense against predators. 
The answers we have found, however, 
have left us with many new questions. Do 

squirrels prey extensively on leverets only 
when they are abundant? Does this preda- 
tion have a significant effect on the hare 
cycle, or would most of the leverets have 
been killed later by other predators any- 
way? To answer these and other questions, 
we will need to return to the boreal woods 
at different points in the hare cycle and see 
how the leverets fare then. But we are sure 
that for baby snowshoe hares, the forest 
wiU always be fuU of danger. □ 


Victorian England's Hippomania 

From the Nile to the Thames, 
they loved Obaysch 

by Nina J. Root 

Even before he was purchased by the 
American showman P. T. Bamum in 1892, 
Jumbo the elephant was a world-famous 
attraction at the London Zoo (see "A Big 
Pain," Natural History, March 1991). His 
name became part of our language, all but 
replacing "mammoth" as a synonym for 
immense, thus contributing to the durable 
oxymoron "jumbo shrimp." 

Victorian zoogoers had another fa- 
vorite, however, whose star rose in the fir- 
mament of animal celebrities and then dis- 
appeared. He was a hippopotamus named 
Obaysch, the first hippo seen in Europe 
since the time of Roman circuses. Cap- 
tured in 1849, Obaysch arrived at pre- 
cisely the right moment to seize the atten- 
tion of London's burgeoning middle class, 
for exotic animals were becoming a na- 
tional obsession. 

Natural history was a popular craze. As 
the study of God's creations, it was con- 
sidered morally uplifting and compatible 
with Victorian notions of respectability. 
Young and old, especially "ladies," col- 
lected shells and butterflies, pressed flow- 
ers, and raised hothouse orchids. Nature 
study was even healthful, prompting 
walks along the seashore or bird-watching 
tours through fields and woods. Victorian 
parlors displayed aquariums, fern collec- 
tions, butterfly cases, albums of seaweed, 
and popular books on natural history. Zo- 
ological and botanical parks flourished as 
thousands flocked to marvel at rare and 
unfamiliar species brought from flie cor- 
ners of the Empire. Thus, the stage was set 
for the adulation of Obaysch, an enthusi- 
asm that amounted to hippomania. 

He was named for his native island of 
Obaysch in the White Nile, located south 
of Khartoum in the present Sudan. A few 
days after his birth, in the summer of 1 849, 
hunters employed by the Viceroy of 
Egypt, Abbas Pasha, shot a female hip- 
popotamus and discovered her infant hid- 
ing among the reeds. When they tried to 
grab him, the shppery calf plunged into 
file river and almost got away. One man 
struck him with a boat hook, leaving a scar 
Obaysch carried for the rest of his life, and 
then lifted the dazed animal into the boat. 
Obaysch continued to struggle, almost 

34 Natural History 2/93 

Inspired by Obaysch, Joseph Wolf painted a herd of 
hippopotamuses on the Nile River for an 1861 
portfolio of London 's zoo animals. 

Obaysch's statue, top, made of 
hardened Nile mud, and sheet 
music for the "Hippopotamus 
Polka," left, survive from 
Victorian popular culture. 

Zoological Society of London Library 

Constant companions: keeper Hamet Safi 
Cannana and his celebrated charge, 
Obaysch, journeyed together to London 
from Cairo in 1850. 

AMNH Library 

capsizing the craft, but soon became ex- 

The hippo's extravagant transportation 
to Cairo, courtesy of the Abbas Pasha, was 
a notable event. A special boat was built to 
carry Obaysch along the Nile, escorted by 
ten Nubian soldiers and their Ueutenant. 
His Highness the Abbas Pasha presented 
the animal to the British consul general, 
Mr. C. A. Murray, as a gift to the Zoologi- 
cal Society of London, and was in turn 
given several teams of fine greyhounds. 
With diplomatic pomp, the chief officer of 
the Pasha's palace accompanied the hippo 
to his temporary home at Cairo's British 
consulate. On November 14, 1849, Mr. 
Muiray wrote to the Zoological Society of 
London to announce the new acquisition, 
which "is now in a yard at the back of my 
house, and apparently in perfect health." 
Right from the start, Obaysch was treated 
with the care befitting a future celebrity. 
Wrote Murray, "It is only five or six 
months old, and still fives entirely on milk; 
I think a fresh importation of cows wiU be 
necessary in Cairo, as our fittle monster 
takes about thirty quarts of milk daily for 
his share already." 

Delighted by the enthusiastic reception 
of his gift, the Abbas Pasha ordered an- 
other of his officers, with a party of sol- 
diers, to secure a young female from the 
White Nile, so that he might ship a pair 
back to England. The first expedition, 
however, was not successful in finding a 
suitable mate for Obaysch. Meanwhile, 
Murray continued to report on the hippo's 

The Hippopotamus is quite well, and the de- 
light of every one who sees him. He is as 
tame and playful as a Newfoundland puppy; 
knows his keepers, and follows them all 
over the courtyard; in short, if he continues 
gentle and intelligent as he promises to be, 
he will be the most attractive object ever 
seen in our Garden, and may be taught all 
the tricks usually performed by the ele- 

Obaysch lived with the Murrays for 
several months while suitable accommo- 
dations were built on a Pacific & Orient 
steamer. A keeper, Hamet Safi Cannana, 
had been hired to stay with him night and 
day. Hamet ended up sleeping on the floor 

beside his charge, because at night 
Obaysch would playfuUy tip him out of his 

In the spring of 1 850, Hamet and his as- 
sistants, two professional snake charmers, 
lured Obaysch into a padded cart and took 
him to Alexandria, where they boarded the 
pilot steamer Ripen. On the ship's main 
deck, a hippo house had been constructed, 
with steps leading into a tank that held 400 
gallons of water. After a smooth crossing 
to Southampton, they traveled to London 
in a special train. Crowds gathered at 
every station, hoping to get a gUmpse of 
the hippopotamus, but all they saw was 
Hamet, who popped out occasionally for 
air. On May 25, Obaysch and his keeper 
arrived in London, and were taken to the 
zoological gardens in Regents Park, where 
newly prepared quarters were to be the 
hippo's permanent home. 

Zoo ofiicials had no previous experi- 
ence with hippos, but Obaysch's human 
companion had the situation well in hand. 
The zoologist Sir Richard Owen reported 

the strong attachment of the animal to its 
keeper removed every difficulty in its vari- 
ous transfers from ship to train, and from 
wagon to its actual abode. On arriving at the 
Gardens, the Arab walked first out of the 
transport van, with a bag of dates over his 
shoulder, and the beast trotted after him, 
now and then lifting up its huge grotesque 
muzzle and stuffing at its favourite dainties. 

Extraction of a fractured tooth by 
top-hatted zoo superintendent 
Abraham Bartlett, as sketched by a 
nineteenth-century London artist 
for Punch. 

Lewis Carroll's nonsense rhyme 
about a hippo riding a London bus 
became part of his comic epic 
"Bruno and Sylvie." 

AMNH Library 

with which it was duly rewarded on entering 
its apartment. 

Soon Obaysch was well settled in. He 
had a pool, a sleeping room covered with 
straw, and a stuffed sack pillow, "of which 
the animal duly avails itself when it 
sleeps." Happy and contented only so long 
as his keeper was nearby, Obaysch grew 
"very impatient of any absence of its 
favourite attendant," during which he 
would rise on his hind legs and lean heav- 
ily on the wooden fence. He ate a porridge 
made with large quantities of milk and 
maize meal mixed together. Lewis Carroll 
even wrote a poem about the hippo's 
prodigious appetite: 

He thought he saw a Banker's Clerk 

Descending from the bus: 

He looked again, and found it was 

A Hippopotamus: 

■'If this should stay to dine," he said, 

"There won't be much for us!" 

Several thousand people lined up each 
Saturday to see Obaysch. Queen Victoria 
brought her children to his paddock and 
even recorded observations on the hippo's 
behavior and personality in her diary. Sil- 
ver models of Obaysch were sold in the 
Strand, and the "Hippopotamus Polka" 
became an instant hit. The popular press, 
especially the British humor magazine 
Punch, chronicled practically every aspect 
of H. R. H.'s (His Rolling Hulk's) Mfe, in- 
cluding the extraction of a broken tooth, 
his feud with the elephant keeper, and the 
time he and his new keeper unintention- 
ally went swimming together. 

After only a few years of hippomania, 
however, the pubhc began to search for 
newer sensations. Even Charles Dickens 
decided that Obaysch was receiving too 
much attention and wrote an article in 
Household Words purporting to give equal 
time to the other zoo animals: the monkey 
screamed, at a specially convened court, 
that "favoritism is being shown the fat 
water-pig," and the hyena wanted to know 
what people found so endearing about a 
"swimming swine." In 1851, several suc- 
cessful rivals for the public's attention ap- 
peared: a newly arrived elephant and her 
calf and a great anteater from South Amer- 

A mid-Victorian illustration, right, 
depicting a male hippo with his mate and 
calf was probably based on Obaysch 's 
famous zoo family. 

AMNH Library 

ica. According to Punch, Obaysch was 
petulant about these upstarts: 

I'm a hippish Hippopotamus 

and don't know what to do. 
For the public is inconstant 

and a fickle one, too. 
It smiled once upon me, 

and now I'm quite forgot; 
Neglected in my bath, 

and left to go to pot. 

He regained some of his stardom, how- 
ever, in 1854, when the Pasha's men fi- 
nally succeeded in capturing a young fe- 
male from his homeland, and sent her to 
London to be Obaysch's mate. She was 
called Adhela, or Dil, and the two hippos 
lived together for twenty-three years. 
After producing a stillborn infant, then 
one that died in infancy, Dil finally gave 
birth to a female that she successfully 
reared. Originally misnamed "Guy 
Fawkes," she was renamed "Miss Guy" 
when keepers realized their mistake. 
Obaysch's daughter lived to the age of 
thirty-six and left no offspring. 

When he died on March 20, 1 878, at the 
fairly early age of 29, Punch noted 
Obaysch's passing with a long hipposolil- 
oquy, which included the lines: 

URM'P! Urm'p! A feeble grunt! I fail 

Old Hippo's mighty yet melodious 

Sinks to a raucous whisper, short, not 

I dreamt of [the White Nile] last night, 

the unctuous ooze. 
Where one might take one's ease, and 

bask and snooze... 
Ah, well! I've had my triumphs, and 

am yet 
A Public Pet! 

With the exception of Jumbo, no other 
captive animal's life had been so thor- 
oughly recorded and popularized as 
Obaysch's, although he is all but forgotten 
today. Biographical material on the hip- 
popotamus that captivated Victorian Eng- 
land now rests in the Ubrary of the Zoolog- 
ical Society of London. Visitors entering 
that library are greeted by a statue of 
Obaysch made of baked Nile mud. D 

38 Natural HtsxoRY 2/93 


It'stime for a change to the wines of Ernest and Julio Gallo 


^%l,v, ''^^^' 


^ / //atfv 


V/ . 










A coqui, native to Puerto RicOy clings to a bromeliad leaf. 

Thomas R, Fletcher 

Frequent Fliers 

Each dawn, thousands of Puerto Rican rainforest frogs dive out of the treetops 

by Margaret M. Stewart 

A predawn downpour threatened at four 
o'clock in the morning, but still I sat on a 
boulder in the Puerto Rican rain forest 
waiting for something I had never seen: a 
shower of frogs. If frogs did indeed "rain" 
down, their behavior would explain sev- 
eral of my prior observations of the small 
frog called the coqui. 1 had been studying 
coquies for five years and knew their habi- 
tat well, even at night. I felt comfortable in 
the midlevel rain forest on the slopes of the 
Luquillo Mountains (see "This Land," 
Natural History, October 1991), where 
tabonuco, guarea, Cecropia, and Sloanea 
trees formed a sixty-foot canopy over my 
head, and sierra palm fronds waved qui- 
etly in the balmy air. This area, near El 
Verde Field Station in the Caribbean Na- 
tional Forest, had become almost a second 
home for me. Every summer and between 
semesters I studied the frogs there. 

In 1979, two Cornell graduate smdents, 
Carol Beuchat and John Thorbjamarson, 
told me about an unexpected experience 
they had had at dawn after attempting to 
watch coquies throughout the night. 
"Meg, we saw an amazing thing that 
you've got to see! At dawn the trees hter- 
ally rained frogs! Frogs were 'plopping' 
all around us. What is going on?" It was 
four years before I was able to follow up 
on their observations. But there I was on a 
warm June night waiting for the faUing 
frogs. Sure enough, at about five a.m., 
something landed on the leaf fitter near 
me. It sounded heavier than a faUing leaf, 
but not so sharp as crackling twigs: a sort 
of dull "plop." I rushed to the spot and 
found a coqui, sitting on top of a leaf that 
was still swaying from the frog's impact. 
Then I heard something land on a palm 
frond near my head. Another coqui! I 
heard several more, but could not see 
them. Coquies are so weU camouflaged 
that sometimes I could stare directly at one 
on the brownish leaf fitter and not see it 
until it moved. Over the next few weeks, I 
repeated my dawn vigil many times. Some 
days, showers made it too difficult to hear 
the frogs land. On other mornings, sfi^ong 
gusts of wind moved through the forest 
just when the frogs should have been 

"plopping" and I could not hear them 

I had been studying population regula- 
tion and reproductive biology of several 
species in this region. The coqui is the 
largest (less than two inches long) and 
most numerous of some twelve species of 
Eleutherodactylus that live in Puerto 
Rico's montane rain forests. I was curious 
to know how this forest, which seemed 
relatively free of insects, could support 
frog populations as dense as 10,000 indi- 
viduals per acre. To understand the frogs' 
population dynamics, I had set up experi- 
mental study plots by hanging many tree 
trunks with small bamboo "frog houses": 
six-inch sections of bamboo stem, covered 
on one end to prevent desiccation. Co- 
quies, like other frogs of the genus, do not 
breed in ponds. They lay eggs in rolled 
leaves, under bark, in tree holes, or in 
other damp, semienclosed spaces. Males 
brood the eggs, which hatch directly into 
tiny housefly-sized froglets. (see Natural 
History, May 1987). Nocturnal by habit, 
coquies spend the day in their nest sites, 
emerging at dusk to call, forage, and court. 
At dawn they are back in their safe hiding 
places. I had suspected that available nest 
and retreat sites were a major factor limit- 
ing population density, and my first exper- 
iments abundantly confirmed that view. 
The frogs readily accepted the bamboo 
houses, which allowed me to elevate the 
populations in my experimental plots to as 
much as five times those in control plots 
lacking the artificial shelters. 

Except for brooding fathers guarding 
their egg clutches against predation by 
other males and from desiccation, frogs 
left their houses on most nights before 
eight o'clock, and returned before seven 
o'clock in the morning. Males, who were 
calling for mates, preferred to sit on pep- 
per bush leaves in the understory at night, 
but females and noncalling males disap- 
peared and I did not know where they 
went. The obvious place was the canopy. 
Were the frogs climbing up into the fi-ees 
to seek food or, perhaps, to avoid ground- 
dwelling predators and escape competi- 
tion from other frogs? 

44 Natural History 2/93 

Photographed repeatedly with a strobe light during free fall, 
a coqiii, left, adjusts its position in midflight. During its 
"parachuting" drop, below, a coqui assumes a typical 
splayed-out posture, which slows descent. 

Both studio ptiotograptis by C.E, Millen MIT 

Fortunately, there was a seventy-two- 
foot aluminum tower in the forest near the 
field station. From the tower platforms, 
placed at six-foot intervals, we could peer 
into the canopy at various levels and see 
frogs sitting on large limbs and leaves. We 
also tied frog houses to the comers of ten 
platforms on the tower. From our obser\'a- 
tions we learned that frogs used retreats 
and nests at all levels except the treetops 
that protruded above the canopy, which 
were too dry for the frogs. Frog houses 
above the canopy quickly dried out be- 
cause winds were much stronger there 
than within the protective leaf cover. My 
Cornell University colleagues on coqui 
studies, Harvey Pough and his smdents, 
had learned that frogs may dry out during 
the night in the canopy unless they are able 
to rehydrate. Frogs do not drink, but ab- 
sorb water from a thin area of abdominal 
skin, called the pelvic patch. Normally, co- 
quies can replace water during the day 
simply by staying in their moist retteats. I 
have watched frogs, just after plopping 

down from the canopy, spread themselves 
against wet moss on tree roots to rehy- 
drate. In tune, I learned that most climbing 
occurred after at least three days of rain, 
when frogs are fully hydrated. 

My assistant Ulmar Grafe enjoyed stay- 
ing on the tower; he spent several nights 
there obser\'ing the coqufes as they re- 
turned to their bamboo houses. When it 
was raining, the frogs sometimes slid 
backward along the tower's shppery alu- 
minum support rods, despite enlarged toe 
discs, and had to make several tries to 
reach home. Eventually, we observed 
frogs jumping as much as forty-five feet 
from their bamboo houses on the tower to 
the ground below. 

Since we knew such falls wouldn't hurt 
the frogs, we decided to drop them firom 
various heights to obser\'e the behavior 
they use to control and break their falls. I 
"jumped" the frogs from different heights 
on the tower while observers on the 
ground timed their descent with watches. 
As each frog entered free fall, it extended 

its arms and legs, bent at the knee and 
elbow joints, and spread its fingers and 
toes. The frogs rotated slowly as they de- 
scended. Apparently, spreading the limbs 
stabilizes the body and keeps it from top- 
phng over and o\'er during the fall. 

We observed the same beha\ior in a 
close relative of the coqui, Eleuthero- 
dactylus portoricensis, which also fives in 
die forest. Although these frogs are not 
tme gfiders, they can influence the direc- 
tion of their fall, deflecting it by as much 
as three to six feet from the vertical. Co- 
qufes fan at angles less than 45° from the 
vertical, a behavior known as parachuting. 
True gliding frogs descend at angles 
greater than 45° and can turn in "flight." 
Sharon Emerson's studies show that the 
Wallace's flying frog greatly influences 
the speed and direction of its faU. Unlike 
the coquies, these Borneo frogs have 
webbed feet and skin flaps. 

When we simultaneously dropped a 
five frog and a dead frog from heights of 
up to forty feet on the tower, the five frog 

Fish Gotta Swim, Frogs Gotta Fly 

by Sharon B. Emerson 

always fell more slowly than the dead 
frog. The posture and extended arms and 
legs make a difference in fall rate, even for 
a 2.5 to 3.6 gram frog. Because they are so 
hght, coquies land unharmed. 

I reasoned that if most nonbrooding 
frogs go to the canopy to forage, we 
should be able to see many of them head- 
ing up tree trunks — yet we had rarely ob- 
served them chmbing. I finally realized 
why. The frogs were going after their din- 
ner at the same time we were cooking our 
evening meal of beans and rice in the tiny 
field station kitchen. I mobihzed two of 
my assistants, Nancy Humphrey and John 
Lasher, and we marked fifty adjacent for- 
est trees with numbered strips of yellow 
tape. During what had been our dinner 
hour, from dusk until after dark, using 
flashlights and moving quickly from one 
tree to the next, we counted all frogs 
climbing each trunk, then noted the tree's 
identification numbers. Sure enough, most 
frogs climbed between 7:00 and 7:30, with 
as many as eight frogs climbing one trunk. 
By 7:30, the forest was dark, and the coqui 
chorus became ear-sphtting. After making 
many counts under different weather con- 
ditions and at different times of the year, 
we ascertained that regardless of season, 
more frogs climbed on warm, humid 
nights and after wet days than when the 
weather was cool, dry, or windy. One of 
my team was usually "plopped" on by a 
coqui during the night. I remember my 
alarm in the dark of night when a coqui 
landed on my head! Not all frogs waited 
for dawn to return from the canopy; dry- 
ing winds brought some down earlier. 

We were surprised to learn that most 
frogs cUmbed during a fifteen-minute pe- 
riod. Why such coordinated mass move- 
ments? An important reason may be to 
keep from becoming another creature's 
dinner. Several large invertebrate preda- 
tors wait on the tree trunks for large insects 
and frogs. Among them are tarantulas that 
build lichen-covered "hides" on the tree 
trunk, emerging at night to ambush prey. 
Another is an arachnid relative of scorpi- 
ons known as the guavd, whose elongated 
first pair of legs detect approaching prey. 

While a coqui has no special anatomy to 
assist its airborne locomotion, its cousin in 
Borneo — Wallace's flying frog — is well 
adapted for gliding through the air. First 
described by the British naturalist and 
evolutionist Alfred Russel Wallace in 
1869, Wallace's flying frog seems de- 
signed for flight. Most arboreal frogs are 
slender, but the flying frog is downright 
skinny, built for lightness, with parts of its 
shoulder and pelvic girdles often visible 
through the skin. In addition, Wallace's 
flying frog has enlarged hands and feet, 
enormous toe pads, full webbing between 
fingers and toes, and lateral flaps of skin 
on its arms and legs. Close to four inches 
in body length (more than 60 percent of aU 
frogs are under one inch), it is colored a 
bright chartreuse green, with brilliant yel- 
low and black lines marking the webbing 
between toes and fingers — a spectacular 
sight as it sails through the air. 

At home in the canopy of the Bomean 
rain forest, 50 to 150 feet high, the frog 
must descend close to the ground to breed. 
Smaller treefrogs can use water trapped in 

the axils of plants or treeholes as nurseries, 
but these large frogs produce big tadpoles, 
which need more room. At breeding time 
the adults gUde down to vegetation that 
hangs just above small pools on the forest 
floor. There each pair produces a clutch of 
externally fertilized eggs, embedded in a 
foam nest, which they attach to a leaf. 
When tadpoles hatch, they wriggle free of 
the foam and drop into the pool, where 
they develop into frogs. 

Of the 3,400 species of living frogs, 
fewer than a dozen are known to be 
"fliers," although none of them really flies. 
Rather they gUde, holding their hands and 
feet fixed laterally to their bodies and de- 
scending at an angle of more than 45° 
from the vertical. 

Mimi Koehl, of the University of CaU- 
fomia, Berkeley, and I have made and 
tested biomechanical models of various 
materials to learn how frogs' shapes affect 
their gliding ability. With all models, the 
speed of fall is related to their weight per 
unit of surface. To descend at a slower 
speed, they would need a lower weight 

An illustration of Wallace's flying frog, 

from The Malay Archipelago, by Alfred Russel Wallace (1869) 

Margaret M. Stewart 

46 Natural History 2/93 

Ttie misty rainforest canopy tlwt surrounds the mountain 
El Yunque in Puerto Rico 's Caribbean National Forest 
provides prime habitat for coquies. 

Mark Warner 

and/or increased surface area. Wallace's 
flying frog has evolved both. It weighs less 
than other frogs of the same body length 
and, with webs extended, has a much 
greater surface area. Models also had to 
approximate the behavioral postures as- 
sumed by frogs in flight. The coqui'es of 
Puerto Rico, for instance, "parachute" out 
of trees while assuming the same splayed- 
out pose as Wallace's frog, even though 
they lack any special anatomy for ghding. 

We built a series of frog models that we 
could test in a wind tunnel, just as airplane 
manufacturers test various aerodynamic 
designs. By adjusting Umb positions and 
changing the models' shapes, we could 
measure the effects on flight efficiency. 
First, we analyzed Wallace's flying frog by 
adding each of its specialized features in- 
dependently to a model and recording the 
model's performance with each addition. 
To our surprise, when all the flying special- 
izations were in place, the total effect was 
much greater than the sum of each fea- 
ture's individual contribution. The group 
of flying adaptations appears to have 
evolved as an integrated system, rather 
than piecemeal. 

When the typical flying posture was 
coupled with the true flying frog's shape, 
every aspect of aerial performance in- 
creased. Such frog models traveled longer 
horizontal distances and were more ma- 
neuverable in the air than those that had the 
optimal flying shape but were tested wifli 
liinbs drawn close to the body. Either with 
or without the "flier's" shape, laterally ex- 
tended hands and feet dramatically in- 
creased stability. When the hind limbs 
were placed parallel and behind the body 
of any frog model, it always landed upside 
down. In contrast, when the Umbs were ex- 
tended at right angles to the body, models 
always landed right side up. When frogs 
such as the coqui spread out their hands 
and feet, lateral to the body, they gain sta- 
bUity during descent despite the lack of 
any special modifications for gliding. 
Their "skydiving" behavior suggests a 
plausible antecedent for how Bomean fly- 
ing frogs may have evolved. 

Sharon B. Emerson is a research professor 
in the Department of Biology at the Uni- 
versity of Utah. Her research has explored 
the relationships between morphology, 
performance, and ecology in vertebrate 

The guavd grabs frogs with its spiny pin- 
cers, then defleshes the frogs with its 

Fifteen of our fifty marked transect trees 
had a resident guavd. Somehow the frogs 
have "learned" to time their ascent pre- 
cisely, for these predators emerge only 
after 7:30. just after the peak of the frogs' 
upward migration. Not all frogs made it. 
however, for occasionally we saw a guavd 
deflesh a coqui, and we also saw tarantulas 
catching coquies. 

Coquies are also menaced by the 
diminutive Puerto Rican owl, a nocturnal 
bird in the forest. We don't know how or 
when the owl catches frogs, but its nests 
are littered with coqui carcasses. Frogs de- 
scend from the canopy just before their 
other enemies, the lizard cuckoo or the 
pearly-eyed thrasher, become active. At 
dusk, when the frogs emerge, these hunt- 
ing birds are becoming inactive for the 
night. Even so. coquies run a high risk 
from both invertebrate and vertebrate 

What triggers the coquies to climb? Ap- 
parently light levels set the time, for the 
ascent varied with cloud cover or season- 
ally as day length changed (it varies by 
two hours during the year). By measuring 

illumination on the forest floor at both 
dawn and dusk, we learned that the frogs 
time their movements precisely with light 

The frogs' vocalizations provided an- 
other clue to their behavior. At dawn, the 
coqui chorus switches from advertisement 
calls (co-quf) to aggressive calls (co-qui- 
qui-quf, co-co-qui-quf). and the opposite 
switch occurs at dusk. Most aggressive 
calls are given at dawn just after frogs 
have plopped to the ground and returned 
to their retreats. In the e\ening. the\' give 
the same calls most frequently just before 
they leave their refreats for low calling 
sites or the canopy. Such sounds may e\'en 
stimulate stragglers to call and to move at 
the appropriate time. 

Why would the httle frogs expend so 
much energy and risk death by climbing 
way up to the canopy every night? I sus- 
pected that there must be a greater abun- 
dance of food in the canopy, but obserN'a- 
tions of night feeding were almost 
impossible. How could we learn what the 
frogs were eating in the treetops? I de- 
cided to catch frogs after they dropped lo 
the ground and check their stomach con- 
tents. Frogs, like fishes, lack strong 
sphincter muscles between the esophagns 

At El Verde Field Station, a coqui secures itself to a leaf, below, 
using suction pads on its feet. Wallace's flying frog, right, is 
noticeably skinny, an adaptation for gliding. 

Anne Heimann 

and the stomach. A little water squirted 
into their mouths will flush out their last 
meal — a convenient way to obtain data 
without kilhng the frog. 

My efforts to catch enough canopy 
frogs at dawn failed, but in 1989 we were 
able to take advantage of a new set of 
canopy towers, from which assistant Mike 
Flynn captured several frogs just as they 
were about to drop from the high 
branches. Sure enough, they contained 
many more food items in their stomachs 
than did frogs taken near the ground, in- 
cluding several prey species not found in 
understory frogs. Canopy foraging pro- 
vides a feast worth the effort and risk. 

Another benefit of foraging in the 
canopy is that it allows the frogs to feed 
over a much wider area than does the un- 
derstory. When we counted frogs climb- 
ing tree trunks, we found that on favorable 
nights as much as 70 percent of the popu- 

lation took to the canopy. Larger trees with 
fuller limbs had more frogs using their 
trunk "corridor." Since coquies are very 
aggressive and intolerant of other individ- 
uals, the distance between calhng males is 
never less than twenty inches, and hori- 
zontal home territories average ten feet 
across. In the canopy, the frogs are "lay- 
ered" on the leaf surfaces, which gives 
them more than fifty feet of vertical range 
to occupy. Perhaps canopy foraging is the 
reason the forest can support such high 
densities of coquies. 

But why keep returning to the ground? 
Coquies, unlike most other arboreal frogs, 
do not need to find ponds or even tiny 
pools between plant leaves for reproduc- 
tion. They do need moisture, however, so 
most coquies lay their eggs close to the 
ground where desiccation is less of a prob- 
lem. Unless rains are frequent, the canopy 
becomes too hot and dry during the day. 

Climbing trees at night and jumping out 
at dawn are behaviors not limited to irogs. 
Charles Elton, the great English ecologist, 
described such behavior for many wing- 
less insects in Wytham Woods near Ox- 
ford. Because of the abundant traffic on 
tree trunks that link the ground to the 
canopy, Elton likened them to the Great 
Trunk Road of India. Caterpillars of many 
nocmmal moths head down toward the 
ground by day and "gallop" back up 
trunks after dark to feed in the canopy dur- 
ing the night. The abundance of insect 
food in the canopy can provide fine forag- 
ing for arboreal frogs. Since most birds, 
important predators on both insects and 
frogs, are diurnal, foraging at night can be 
much safer. Climatic conditions at night 
are also better for small creatures that are 
susceptible to drying or overheating. 

For small animals, parachuting and 
gliding are safe and energetically inexpen- 
sive ways of getting to the ground and 
avoiding predators. Most probably de- 
scend in steps rather than leaping the en- 
tire distance to the ground in one jump, al- 
though they are capable of doing that. 
Palm fronds provide broad surfaces for 
landing pads. I even learned to recognize 
the sound of a frog landing on a palm 
frond. True gliding frogs, with webbed 
feet, occur in several different families of 
frogs and are found in arboreal habitats on 
every continent except Antarctica. Para- 
chuting frogs, such as the coqui, are not so 
easily recognized by tiieir shape, but tiiey 
may be much more common among arbo- 
real frogs than anyone expected. Just tiiis 
summer in upstate New York, I watched 
the common gray treefrog jump from the 
trees to the ground at the pond edge at 
dusk. It was moving from the canopy, 
where it spends the day, to the water to 
breed. The coqui, by contrast, goes from 
the understory, where it spends the day, to 
the canopy at night to forage. But it was 
tiie high density of tiie coquies that made 
their parachuting behavior obvious to 
Carol and John, who just happened to be 
in the forest at dawn when the litter was 
dry enough so that they could hear the 
frogs raining down. D 

48 Natural History 2/93 


A short-tailed weasel, orennine. searches for pre}' 
beneath the snow's surface. 

Dwight Kuhn 

The Underside of Winter 

When spring comes, the hidden world beneath the snow may wake up first 
by Peter J. Marchand 

It was a moody fall day in the Colorado 
Rockies when Joseph Merritt hitched up 
his heavy pack, gathered as much research 
equipment in his arms as he could man- 
age, and started the arduous climb toward 
Niwot Ridge. He was headed for the high 
spruce-fir forest 11,000 feet up the moun- 
tainside, where he planned to set out a grid 
of hve-traps to study the population dy- 
namics of the red-backed vole. For a mam- 
malogist, his purpose was hardly unusual. 
He would be capmring and examining the 
secretive animals, then marking and re- 
leasing them to monitor individual devel- 
opment and population changes over time. 
What made his task more difficult than 
usual, however, was that this investigation 
would take him all through the long winter 
and into the following spring — a time 
when most biologists were in heated 
rooms, comfortably working over data 
from their summer field season. To ob- 
serve his animals through the winter, Mer- 
ritt had to haul all the paraphernalia neces- 
sary to construct chimneys around his 
traps so that after the snows covered the 
ground with a deep blanket, he would still 
have undisturbed access to the forest floor. 

By late spring. Merritt had acquired 
more the demeanor of a Canadian fur trap- 
per than that of the doctoral candidate he 
was, although certain aspects of his rou- 
tine would surely have perplexed and 
probably amused the former. Eight days a 
month, from December to June. Merritt la- 
boriously broke fresh trail on snowshoes 
to reach his trapline. He located the traps, 
one at a time, by markers placed overhead 
in the trees. At each trapsite. he would 
drop his pack in the snow, open his heavy 
jacket, and start shoveling. About three 
feet down into the snowpack, Merritt 
would slow down a bit and scrape around 

gingerly until he found the top of the trap 
chimney. No matter how hard the work, or 
how many times he had done it. his antici- 
pation at the first sight of the trap invari- 
ably recharged him. 

One bright spring day in early June. 
Merritt was rewarded for his effort with a 
dividend. He carefully brushed the snow 
from the chimney of trap C12 and lifted 
the co\er. With a pair of long wooden 
tongs, he reached another three feet down 
and gently clasped the small aluminum 
box at the bottom of the shaft. Once he had 
retrie\'ed the box and brought it into the 
ghstening light abo\'e the snowpack. he 
coaxed a small russet animal with jet black 
eyes, and barely any ears, from the warmth 
of the trap and examined it carefull}'. He 
was not expecting what he found in his 
trap this time: the \'ole was ajuvenile. per- 
haps only two weeks old. bom under the 
depths of snow two months before it 
would first feel the warmth of sunlight on 
the forest floor. Merritt examined it again, 
recorded its weight, and with a twinge of 
excitement, returned the young animal, 
christened CG-HR3. back to the dark 
abyss under the snowpack. 

Three hundred miles to the west, in 
Utah's Wasatch National Forest. Frank 
Salisbury nudged his cumbersome snow- 
cat into a small, deeply drifted clearing 
among the aspens of Franklin Basin. With 
a sigh of relief he cut the engine and sat 
for a few minutes listening to the stillness. 
Everything around him appeared pristine 
and namral, but for one thing: next to his 
machine, protruding from the snowpack. 
was a large, corrugated steel silo, complete 
with ladder and a covered hatchway on 
top. After a thoughtful moment. Salisbury 
pulled himself up and stood on the cleated 
track of the snowcat. He reached for a rung 

of the ladder and in a few steps disap- 
peared down into the silo. 

Salisbury was on an odd mission for 
NASA. A plant physiologist from Utah 
State Universit}', he had been awarded a 
grant from the space agency to study plant 
growth under extreme en\"ironments. and 
he was on his way now to his laboratory — 
not in outer space, but instead in the inner 
twilight of the world beneath the deep 
Utah snowpack. Salisbury had built a 
growth chamber below ground, equipped 
with numerous roof-le\'el ports and al- 
coN'es. whereby he could monitor the sub- 
tlest responses of plant cells to the envi- 
ronment of this cold, snowy underworld. 
As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he 
mo\ed across the small room to the far 
comer and carefully detached a metal 
plate from near the ceiling, opening an un- 
obstructed window into the dim world 

Voles often dig openings in the snov.' 
surface, perl laps to release built-up 
carbon dioxide, or perhaps to see if 

spring IS on its way. 

Rod Planck 

Many small mammals, such as the 
red-backed voles at right, take advamage 
of this subnivean world. 

Over time, ice grains at the base of the 
snowpack change their shape and size 
and become brittle. Eventually they 
dissipate, creating open spaces under 
the snow, below. 

Peter J. Marchand 

around him. He peered through the narrow 
sht of emptiness under the dehcate roof of 
the snowpack at a tray of germinating 
seeds. Satisfied with what he saw, he 
backed away carefully and prepared to 
measure with sophisticated instruments 
what the human eye could detect but not 
quantify — the penetration of solar energy 
to his responding plants through nearly six 
feet of snow. 

These observations of plant and animal 
activity under snow were not the first on 
record. Some of the earliest impressions of 
life in this environment come from the pi- 
oneering efforts of the Soviet ecologist 
A. N. Formozov, who nearly fifty years 
ago espoused the importance of snow 
cover to the successful overwintering of 
small mammals in the north. The studies 
by Merritt and Salisbury, however, sug- 
gested that plants and animals were not 
merely surviving the rigors of winter 
under the sheltering snow cover, but were 
growing, prospering, and even reproduc- 
ing. Their research raised several new 
questions about the true nature of this un- 
seen world. If plants and animals under six 
feet of snow were behaving as if it were 
spring, what signals were they receiving 
from the "outside"? And what changes 
were occurring within their realm? These 
are among the questions my students and I 
have been asking over the past decade 

52 Natural History 2/93 

about this environment, known as the 
"subnivean," in which plants and animals 
may carry on life for up to seven months 
of the year. 

In the broadest sense of the word, sub- 
nivean refers to any space beneath the 
upper surface of the snowpack that may be 
occupied by plants or animals. Thus, a 
deer mouse that tunnels into the snowpack 
from the surface to form what I call a 
"resting cavity" is temporarily exploiting 
one dimension of the subnivean environ- 
ment. However, in a more specific sense, 
the term subnivean refers to the nego- 
tiable, although often discontinuous, space 
at the base of the snowpack, where the 
snow meets the ground. 

Much of the free space beneath the 
snowpack owes its origin to the metamor- 
phosis of snow crystals as they undergo 
transformation of shape and size. Almost 
from the moment a snowflake comes to 
rest, molecules on the surface of the ice 
begin migrating from sharp points to con- 
cavities in the crystal to form more or less 
rounded ice grains. These grains of ice 
pack more closely together, resulting in a 
rapid increase in the density and bonding 
of the snow. In time, however, the ice 
grains at the base of the snowpack begin to 
disintegrate, forming brittle, loosely ag- 
gregated crystals, known as "depth hoar," 
which break up easily and eventually dis- 

sipate. These changes occur in response to 
temperature and vapor-concentration gra- 
dients within the snowpack, with water 
vapor migrating irom the lower, warmer 
layers to the colder strata above, where it 
condenses. Ice grains in the upper portion 
of the snowpack thus grow by accretion, at 
the expense of those dissipating near the 
base. The process continues as long as a 
temperature gradient exists, so that over 
time numerous voids develop within the 
fitter layer under the snowpack. This is the 
subnivean space, where so much life goes 
on unseen, that I have sought to character- 
ize in terms of its thermal stabiUty, light 
regime, and air quality. 

The steep temperature gradients often 
observed within the snowpack are testi- 
mony to the excellent insulative quaUties 
of snow. I have recorded subnivean tem- 
peratures of 32° F beneath just sixteen 
inches of snow when the air above was a 
frigid -3 1 ° F. This capacity to buffer win- 
ter's snapping cold is the primary advan- 


tage of snow cover to subnivean plants and 
animals. However, not all snow cover is 
created equally. Seemingly small differ- 
ences in snowpack density can make a sig- 
nificant difference in its thermal conduc- 
tivity. From the onset of my studies I 
needed a simple way to evaluate the insu- 
lative quaUty of a snow cover to determine 
how much snow under a given set of cir- 
cumstances is enough to provide the ther- 
mal protection that plants and animals 

Over the course of several winters at the 
Center for Northern Studies in northern 
Vermont, my students and I implanted nu- 
merous probes within the snow and sub- 
nivean space to monitor temperature fluc- 
tuations as snow cover changed over time. 
We devised a simple index, dividing snow- 
depth by density, to characterize the ther- 
mal quahty of the snowpack. When we 
plotted our index against the ratio of air- 
temperamre flucmations above and be- 
neath the snow, we found a magic number 

Any combination of depth-divided-by- 
density that yielded an index value of 200 
conferred maximum thermal protection; 
further additions of snow made httle dif- 
ference. This meant, for example, that 8 
inches of snow of 0. 1 g/cm' (equivalent to 
a very fresh snowfall) was enough to com- 
pletely buffer short-term temperature fluc- 
tuations in the subnivean environment. As 
the snowpack aged and density increased 
to 0.2 g/cm\ then nearly twice as much 
snow was required for the same thermal 

Our index proved to be just the tool we 
needed to assess the insulative value of 
different snowpacks. But perhaps of 
greater importance was the experience we 
gained coUecting die data. What emerged 
from these smdies was a vision of a sub- 
nivean world that, under a moderately 
deep snowpack, is characterized by low 
but stable temperatures, hovering right at 
the freezing mark dirough much of the 
winter. Even when spring air temperatures 

warm to well above freezing, the sub- 
nivean environment remains near 32° F 
until the last of the snow melts. (In the Far 
North, where snowcover may be thin and 
air temperamres very low, subnivean tem- 
peramres may be as low as -23° F.) 

How then, in such a constant tempera- 
ture environment, do plants and animals 
monitor the progression of the season? 
What switches on plant growth in a timely 
manner under the snow, and what told 
Merritt's voles that it was time to repro- 
duce? Photoperiod, or changing day 
lengfli, is a nearly universal cue for a num- 
ber of seasonal developments in plants and 
animals, so it seems a likely possibility 
here. too. But how might organisms under 
a deep snowpack perceive changes in day 
length? Is snow sufficiently transparent for 
plants and animals to measure the twilight 
of dawn and dusk as it shifts with the sea- 
sons? More questions. 

As I mulled over the possibilities and 
weighed the available evidence, I became 
particularly intrigued by one aspect of 
Merritt's discovery. In the first spring of 
his study, voles became reproductively ac- 
tive in early March, ten weeks before the 
mid-May disappearance of the snow 
cover. During the second winter of his 
study, the snow accumulated to even 
greater depths and lasted longer — a full 
month longer — into mid-June. The onset 
of reproductive activity under the snow- 
pack was delayed by one month, again 
commencing ten weeks before the disap- 
pearance of the snow. If the voles were 
keying into seasonal changes in fight, they 
must have been using some measure other 
than day length. 

With this in mind. I began to investigate 
the light-transmitting properties of snow 
in closer detail. From the work of Safis- 
bury and his smdents. I knew that only a 
smaU amount of fight, principaUy in the 
blue and blue-green region of the spec- 
trum, reached the depths of the snowpack. 
But I also knew that snowpack density in- 
fluenced fight transmission in uncertain 
ways and that ui the spring the snowpack 
undergoes pronoimced structural changes, 
so I decided to so after more data with the 




,. *¥ 

Snow buttercups blossom beneath 
the snow, which then mehs around 
their open flower petals. 

Kent and Donna Dannen 

help of my students. We devised a simple 
experimental procedure in which we could 
compact snow to increasing densities and 
measure light coming through it with a 
sensitive silicon photocell, all the while 
maintaining a constant snow depth. 

With the changes in density that natu- 
rally follow a fresh snowfall, we saw a 
progressive decrease in the amount of 
light passing through the snow. As we in- 
creased snow density to 0.3-0.4 g/cm^ 
values typical of the upper part of the 
snowpack in late winter, only 2 to 3 per- 
cent of the light that penetrated the surface 
of the snow (a very small fraction of the 
total incident light) reached a depth of six 
inches. We compacted the snow as hard as 
we could, to a density of 0.5 g/cm-*, and 
nearly extinguished the light coming 
through. We had reached the "critical den- 
sity" of snow, the maximum density that 
can be attained by compaction alone. 

Then something interesting happened. 
To obtain still higher densities experimen- 
tally, we warmed our snow to the melting 
point, greatly accelerating the coalescence 
of individual grains. We were duplicating 
a process that takes place naturally over 
time within the snowpack and that is facil- 
itated by melting and refreezing in the 
spring. To our collective surprise, our Mght 
extinction curve took an unexpected turn. 
Once past the critical density, we began to 
see a small but steady increase in light 
transmission. Now, the greater the density, 
the more light that came through the snow. 
Where light had previously been re- 
fracted, scattered, and eventually absorbed 
by the many tiny ice grains within the 
snowpack, it was now passing through 
larger, fused grains with much less scatter- 
ing and absorption. 

Like most small advances in our under- 
standing, this one came as a revelation, 
and it changed my view of the subnivean 
realm. I now believe that throughout much 
of the winter, organisms confined to the 
subnivean environment operate in virtual 
darkness. I calculate that less than 0. 1 per- 
cent of incident light reaches the ground 
from late December to early April where 
snow depth is greater than sixteen inches 

and density exceeds 0.25 g/cm'. The in- 
crease in ambient light after the winter sol- 
stice is offset by continued accumulation 
and increasing density of the snowpack — 
until the spring thaw. Once surface melt- 
water begins to percolate into the snow- 
pack and refreeze, the structure and 
density of the snowpack change rapidly, 
and the trend of diminishing light is re- 
versed. Like the coming of spring light in 
the Arctic, dawn slowly breaks over the 
subnivean world. This, I believe, must be 
part of the answer to the timing of endoge- 
nous rhythms in plants and animals under 
the snowpack. It is surely not the only pos- 
sibility, however. 

Another possibility is tied to a curious 
habit of voles: in many areas, these little 
rodents construct tunnels through the 
snow that dead-end at the surface. As For- 
mozov noted in his early writings, "after 
each fresh snowfall the voles clear these 
'windows,' but very rarely come out of 
them." He postulated that the tunnels 
"probably serve to ventilate the deeper 
parts of the burrow." Thereafter all such 
tunnels became known as "ventilation 
shafts." The premise here is that carbon 
dioxide released by soil microorganisms, 
plant roots, even the voles themselves, 
eventually accumulates beneath the snow 
to deleterious levels and that the animals 
deliberately ventilate the subnivean envi- 
ronment by constructing these tunnels. 

Whether COj accumulation is, in fact, 
the driving force for the voles' tunnel 
building, or whether there are other expla- 
nations, remains problematical. My stu- 
dents and I have collected air samples 
from beneath the snowpack with meticu- 
lous care, using a pulse pump to draw 
short breaths of air with as little disturb- 
ance to the subnivean atmosphere as pos- 
sible. We sampled a wide range of habitats 
under a variety of weather conditions, and 
we found that under some circumstances 
CO, accumulations did indeed exceed am- 
bient concentrations, sometimes by as 
much as five-fold (levels twice that high 
have been reported by others). But we also 
observed that high levels of CO, were usu- 
ally transient, with the gas difftising read- 

Light passing through snow crystals, top 
diagram, is refracted, or bent. As it 
scatters, some is absorbed. In general, 
the denser the snowpack, the less the light 
that gets through. Past a certain density, 
however, light transmission actually 
increases; at very high densities ice 
grains merge, bottom diagram, reducing 
the total surface area available for 
refraction and absorption of light 

Adapted from Marchand, Life in the Cold. 












•. ^ ' 

V > I& 


ily through the snowpack, especially on 
windy days. And in the laboratory we 
found that the amount of CO, accumulat- 
ing overnight in a ventilated nest-box oc- 
cupied by a single vole was frequently at 
least ten times greater than ambient levels. 
The voles in this case were provided with 
an escape route to a low CO, environment, 
which they explored frequently when they 
were active, but while resting they felt in- 
sufficient discomfort at the higher CO, 
levels to abandon their nests. 

So we are left with the possibility that 
"ventilation shafts" in nature ser\'e some 
other puipose. I have excavated many 
such tunnels, sometimes wondering if tlie 
unexplained dips and turns might simply 
represent random wanderings of resdess 
voles under the snow. One tunnel tliat I fol- 
lowed nosed twelve inches below die siu- 
face and meandered for more than rvvelve 

Pasqueflowers are among the first 
flowers to bloom in the spring. They get a 
head start under the snow, developing 
some leaves and flower buds, and are 
ready to open as soon as the snow melts. 

John W. Matthews; DRK Photo 

feet horizontally, before plunging to sub- 
nivean depths at the base of a willow 
thicket. I encountered two resting cavities 
along the way, one sixteen inches and the 
other nine feet away from the "window"; 
both had been used considerably, as evi- 
denced by the accumulations of scat. 

Whatever drives the voles to construct 
these tunnels and keep the windows clear, 
it does bring them to the surface and thus 
to the dayhght. Perhaps, I mused, these 
frequent excursions to the surface enable 
the voles to keep track of the changing 
season, constandy resetting their biologi- 
cal clocks to stay in synchrony with the 
world above them. However, there are 
areas where voles are abundant but where 
tunnels to the surface are conspicuously 
absent, particularly in deep snow, such as 
in the Rocky Mountain site where Joe 
Merritt worked. So I am left with my ear- 
lier suspicion that in an environment char- 
acterized by constant temperature and un- 
wavering darkness through much of the 
winter, a spring turnaround in light pene- 
tration to the subnivean is somehow of 
paramount importance in triggering 
growth and reproduction. 

In a fledgling science with unknowns 
racing far ahead of answers, I am obliged 

Unseen but not necessarily unheard, 
small mammals living beneath the 
snowpack may not always escape the 
sharp ears of a fox. 

Stephen J. Krasemann, DRK Photo 

to Speculate on one more intriguing ques- 
tion. Could it be that plants are the princi- 
pal timekeepers of the subnivean world? 
We know from the research of Salisbury 
and his students that many plants actively 
grow under the snowpack; some, like 
tansy mustard and snow speedwell, germi- 
nate from seed, while others, including 
spring beauty, dogtooth violet, western 
coneflower, and the common yarrow, all 
sprout from underground storage organs. 
A few species, including the appropriately 
named snow buttercup, even open their 
flowers into the snow. Undoubtedly much 
of the chemical energy for this activity 
comes from utihzation of stored reserves, 
yet the possible role of hght-energy pene- 
trating the snow cannot be ignored. The 
blue and blue-green light measured at the 
bottom of the snowpack by SaUsbury's 
group is of optimal wavelength for absorp- 
tion by photosynthetic pigments. And 
these same researchers have observed 
chlorophyll synthesis (a chemical reaction 
requiring Ught) in leaves under the snow, 
suggesting that plants may indeed be uti- 
Uzing some of the energy that filters down 
from above. 

Regardless of energy source, the plant 
growth processes that Salisbury observed 
require active metabohsm, involving the 
synthesis of many biochemical com- 
pounds, which means that there is chemi- 
cal information flowing. And there is a 
growing body of evidence that some of the 
chemicals regulating growth in plants may 
directly stimulate reproductive activity in 
small mammals that ingest them. Gib- 
berellic acid, a growth hormone especially 
prevalent in germinating seed, is one such 
compound; and a glycoside derivative pre- 
sent in vegetatively growing young plants 
(known as 6-Methoxybenzoxazolinone, or 
6-MBOA) is yet another compound with 
demonstrated effectiveness. So perhaps 
the voles under deep snow cover are get- 
ting their information, and tiie stimulus to 
breed, from the food they eat. Plants, as re- 
ceptors of light energy and mediators of 
biochemical processes in herbivores, may 
be the ultimate harbinger of spring in the 
subnivean world. D 

56 Natural History 2/93 

Cushenbury Canyon, 

by Robert H. Mohlenbrock 

Only fifty miles east of Los Angeles, 
the San Bernardino National Forest pro- 
vides a wide range of vegetation, from the 
creosote bush and burrobrush of the Mo- 
jave Desert to the ground-hugging alpine 
plants that grow above treeiine on 1 1 ,499- 
foot Mount San Gorgonio, the highest of 
the San Bernardino Mountains. Between 
these extremes are extensive woodlands of 
pinyon pine and juniper; mixed conifer 
forests of white fir, sugar pine, and pon- 
derosa pine; and subalpine forests with 
Mmber and lodgepole pines. The teirain 
consists mostly of granite and quaitzite 
rock, punctuated by outcrops of carbonate 
rock, including limestone and dolomite. 
These outcrops provide the only home of 
five very rare plants: Parish's daisy, 
Cushenbury buckwheat, Cushenbury milk 
vetch, the San Bernardino Mountains 
bladderpod, and Cushenbury oxytheca. 

The carbonate outcrops lie in a thirty- 
five-mile band running east-west along 
the northern slopes of the San Bernardino 
Mountains, at elevations between 3,500 

and 8,000 feet. The five rare plants grow at 
scattered sites within this zone, most often 
in the understory beneath pinyon pine and 
California juniper, alongside the more 
common mountain mahogany. Mormon 
tea, and Mojave yucca. All but the San 
Bernardino Mountains bladderpod can be 
found in a deeply incised ravine known as 
Cushenbury Canyon (the bladderpod is 
confined to adjacent Big Bear Valley). 

Paiish's daisy is a ten-inch-tall peren- 
nial with rose-colored flower heads and 
narrow leaves covered by soft, silvery 
hairs. It is named for the nineteenth-cen- 
tury California explorer-botanist S. B. 
Parish, who first described it and some of 
the other five rarities. 

Cushenbury buckwheat has tiny, white- 
woolly leaves, which grow in dense mats 
up to twenty inches wide. In May and 
June, clusters of cream-colored flowers 
rise on four-inch-tall stalks above the 
cushion of leaves; the flowers turn pur- 
plish as they begin to wither The sprawl- 
ing Cushenbury milk vetch radiates stems 

Parish 's daisy is one of several speai s 
confined to areas of carbonate rock. 

Photographs by Mananne Austin-McDermon 

58 Natural History 2/93 

The flo\\ CIS of Cuslunhun buckw heat 
turn pwplish as the^ u ithei 

Tffls Land 

Agave, a plant found at the fringes of the Mojave Desert, grows 
on the floor of Ciishenbury Canyon. In the distance, mining 
operations have exposed an outcrop of limestone. 

Noella Ballenger and Jalien Tulley 

Joe LeMonnier 

about twelve inches long. Small clusters of 
purple, sweetpea-shaped flowers appear 
near the ends of the stems. The San 
Bernardino Mountains bladderpod is an 
eight-inch-tall member of the mustard 
family that bears smaU yellow flowers, sil- 
very-hairy leaves, and an inflated seed 
pod. Rarest of all, and the only annual, is 
the Cushenbury oxytheca, a four-inch-tall, 
white-flowered plant related to the buck- 

The carbonate rock that supports these 
plants also poses the greatest threat to their 
survival, for it is a desirable commodity. It 
is so pure that pharmaceutical companies 
use it as an ingredient in antacids, and 
other industries use it in sugar refining and 
rubber manufacturing, as flux for steel, as 
a whitener for paper, and for fixing dyes in 

fabrics. The carbonate is also mined for 
conversion to cement, including the 
smooth, final coat applied to swimming 

Forest plants are unable to cover the un- 
sightly vertical walls left by mining opera- 
tions. The mining also generates thirteen 
tons of waste material for every ton of ore 
produced. The gigantic piles of overbur- 
den that accumulate are inhospitable to 
vegetation, and "fugitive" dust is readily 
blown onto surrounding vegetation, soil, 
and roadways. Adjacent to cement-mak- 
ing operations, a quarter-inch layer of ce- 
ment often covers the ground and low- 
growing vegetation. 

The five rare plants that grow on the 
carbonate rock, already barely clinging to 
existence because of their restricted habi- 

San Bernardino Mountains bladderpod 
grows only in Big Bear Valley. 

Photographs by Marianne Austln-McDermon 

60 Natural History 2/93 

Ciishenbun nnlk vetch is a dwarf 
nienibei of the pea fanuly 

Cushenbury Canyon 

For visitor information write: 
Forest Supervisor 
San Bernardino National Forest 
1824 S. Commercenter Circle 
San Bernardino, California 92408 
(714) 383-5588 

tat, have Uttle chance of surviving contin- 
ued mining operations. Before 1975, there 
were no federal regulations on what min- 
ers could do to the terrain, and even now 
the laws on reclamation are weak and 
poorly enforced. As a result, the U.S. For- 
est Service has petitioned the Fish and 
Wildlife Service, the agency that adminis- 
ters the Federal Endangered Species Act, 
to list the five plants as endangered or 
threatened. If this is done, then those 
growing on Forest Service land would be 
automatically protected. 

The mining companies have mounted a 
major effort to convince the Fish and 
Wildlife Service not to fist these plants. 
One argument used is that these plants are 
not restricted to carbonate rocks and there- 
fore could be found elsewhere, but 
botanists have no evidence for this. At the 
time of this writing, the mining industry 
has petitioned for a delay in the decision 
while it attempts to strengthen its case. 

In the meantime, the mining industry 
continues to take advantage of the very 
outdated 1872 Federal Mining Act, which 
was designed to encourage private indi- 
viduals and companies to utilize public 
lands more fully. Those who have a plan to 
carry out mining can apply for a patent on 
public land. If the patent is approved by 
the federal government, the land becomes 
converted to private land at the price of 
only two dollars an acre. 

The mining act of 1872 undermines the 
effectiveness of the Endangered Species 
Act, since plants growing on private land 
receive no protection. Land aquired under 
the act might not even be mined. In some 
cases, corporations have received patents 
on public land under the presumption of a 
future mining operation, then abandoned 
the plans in favor of resorts, condomini- 
ums, and other forms of development. 

Robert H. Mohlenbrock, professor emeri- 
tus of plant biology at Southern Illinois 
University, Carbondale, explores the bio- 
logical and geological highlights of the 
156 U.S. national forests. 


let available. Gallery of Prehistoric Paintings. 1202 
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attention. No obligation. Kensington, PO. Box 582 NH, 
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study. P.C.D.I-, Atlanta, Georgia. Free catalogue. 
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Gourmet Interests 

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Display specimens, jewelry, books. Authenticity guar- 
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3726-N, New Haven, CT 06525 



Grandpa Alt 


Giandpo Alt 

Insect Songs 

$8.95 Each Cassette 

Environmental Subjects — Great gift ideas! Free infor- 
mation: MGB Press, Dept. NH, P.O. Box 8787, 
Greensboro, NC 27419 (919)852-4287 


EXCITING WORLD MUSIC: Latin America, Africa, 
India, Far East and more. Audiophile sound quality, 
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binoculars since 1923, alignment performed on our 
U.S. Navy collimator. Free catalog and our article 
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have competitive prices and all the answers to your 
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EXPLORE HISTORY OF NYS. canals & rivers 
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New York 12180 

MAINE. Secluded, lakefront log cabin, $275 weekly 
Hodgkin, 13 Crystal. Cumberland, ME 04021 (207) 


Beachfront resort in Southern Belize. Comfortable 
rooms overlooking Canbbean: Homecooked meals: 
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ing; Snorkeling and Island Cottage Rental. Rath, Box 
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SPRING ON BEQUIA: Distinctive ten room hillside 
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ADVENTURE CALLING! Outstanding wildlife safaris 
in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and Zimbabwe, Low 
cost camping or deluxe Teeming wildlife, stunning 
photography. Fascinating options: track gonllas, climb 
Kilimanjaro, visit Vic Falls. Galapagos! Swim, sail, 
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yachts. Exotic wildlife, haunting landscapes. Amazon 
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pert guides. Over 300 guaranteed departures. Free 
Brochures' (800) 525-6772. Special Interest Tours, 
134 W, 26 St.(C) NY NY 10001 

camping safans in Kenya & Tanzania, Kilimanjaro 
climbs, gonlla tracking. London/Nairobi overland 
more. Also extensive selection of unique tours in 
Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Free color trip catalogs, 
Himalayan Travel, 112 Prospect St,, Stamford, CT 
06901 (800) 225-2380 


. SAHARA Desert w. Tuaregs; overlands: YEMEN, 

• MEKONG and GANGES Rivera cruises. Wodaabe 
Nomads of NIGER ; BORNEO'S Dayak; Asmat of 
MALI'S Dogon; CAR pygmies. 

. 'Wildlife in BrazU's PANTANAL, COSTA RICA, 

areheo cruise; AUSTRALIAN Outback. 


Box #n47/NH • Carefree, AZ 85377 
(602) 488-3688 • Fax (602; 488-3405 

The Marl^t 

rilla safari to Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Botswana. 
Also Egypt, India, Vietnam, Nepal, etc. Tenth year in 
operation. Wanderlust Advenutres, 65 Clarkson, Suite 
207, Denver, CO 80218 (303) 777-5846 or (800) 572- 

AFRICA! — Affordable adventures that explore Africa's 
wildlife and cultures in depth. Outstanding guides, 
small groups, excellent accommodations off the 
beaten path. Walking and night game drives available. 
Join one of our scheduled safaris or design a private 
adventure of your own. Tanzania. Kenya, Botswana. 
Draw upon more than 20 years' experience. Voy- 
agers, Dept NH-2, Box 915, Ithaca, NY 14851 (800) 

Canoe Canada's Arctic 

Fly-In canoe trips Into the heart of North America's last great 
wilderness ■ :he tundra and taiga of Canada's Northwest Ter- 
ritories. Photograph caribou, wolves, muskox, moose, 
grizzlies, rich birdlife, Virgin fishing. 7 - 19 days. 
Wildlife biologist guide. Operating since 1974. 
Brochure; CANOE ARCTIC INC. Box 130AC, 
Fort Smith, N.W.T.. Canada XOE OPO (403)872-2308 

[hwest Ter- 
Dose, ^o^ 

of the most highly regarded natural history tours in 
Alaska. The trips feature small group experiences 
combining safe and fun outdoor adventuring with the 
security of professional tour guides. Travelers are 
taken beyond the ordinary activities of conventional 
bus tours and cruises. Visit Denali National Park, 
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Kenai Fjords National 
Park along with other destinations. Over fifty depar- 
tures. Operating since 1977. For a 24-page color 
brochure write: Alaska Wildland Adventures, Box 
389-HN, Girdwood, AK 99587, or call (800) 334-8730 


Natural history wilderness float trips on a selection of the tinest 
British Columbia and Yukon rivers Each a unique experience 
highlighting a different combination of landscapes, waters and 
ecosystems. Sunny forests, fjords and canyons. Glaciers, wild- 
flowers and grizzlies Musk ox. narwhal & gyrfalcon in the Arctic 

Canadian River Expeditions (604) 738-4449 

#31-3524 West 16th Ave. Vancouver. BC, Canada V6R 3C1 

ALLAGASH CANOE TRIPS. Maine and Canada. 
Wilderness, wildlife. Guided adventures for adults, 
families, teens. Box 71 3H, Greenville, ME 04441 
(207) 695-3668 

ANCIENT EGYPT: May/June 1 993, expert tour escort, 
lectures, brochures: Dr. H. Jogland, WVSC. Campus 
Box 100, Institute, WV 25112-1000 (304) 346-2240 


NEW ViaDIRECT SOURCE lets you book at local prices, 
either direct or tfiru your travel agent, witfi no middleman's 
markup. Includes phone, fax, and address. 250 pages. 
1800 tours, 1000 places to stay in Botswana, Lesotho, 
Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe. Only 
$1795. Money back guarantee. VISA, American Express. 
Order today by calling 800-672-3274, or writing 
ViaDIRECT, 34 E. Center, Lake Bluff, IL 60044 

Wilderness/Cultural camping trips hosted by Athabas- 
can Indians. Share their culture and traditions for 4 
days in Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge. Small per- 
sonal groups (6 per. max.). Owned and operated by 
the Athabascan People of Huslia. Brochure, informa- 
tion, Athabasca: Cultural Journeys, P.O. Box 10-NH, 
Huslia, Alaska 99746 1-800-423-0094 



Study lours in Turkey for 1993 

Apr 21 - May 3: $2125 

Aug 4 - 20: $2390 

**** dbl occ, land pkg only 

AnaTours #NH,480 S. 12th St. 

San Jose CA 9^1 12 (408)293-0881 

Nature, Hiking and the Outdoors. Enjoying hiking and 
camping safaris, lodge stays, and island resorts in 
New Zealand's scenic National Parks and Milford 
Track: Australia's Outback, Tropical North, and Great 
Barher Reef. Pacific Exploration Co., Box 3042-N, 
Santa Barabara, CA 93130 (805)687-7282 

and more walking vacations. Country Walkers, P.O. 
Box 180NH, Waterbury, VT 05676 1-802-244-1387 

BAJA EXPEDITIONS! Sea Kayak the warm waters of 
Mexico, dive with hammerheads, touch a whale, sail 
to secluded desert islands. Bird watching, snorkeling, 
and more. Baja Expeditions, 2625 Garnet Avenue, 
San Diego, CA 92109 (619) 581-3311, 1-800-843- 
6967orfax (619) 581-6542 


Natural History, Culture and Wildlife. 
Orangutans, Dragons. Rhinos. El- 
ephants, and more. Borneo, Koniodo. 
Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, Suinba. 
800- 642-ASIA 

Call/nr a Free Ca/ahg 

ized, interactive vacations; English-speaking native 
guides; experienced travel counselors. Great Trips 

Komodo Dragons, Balinese Culture. Vbyagers, Dept. 
NB-2, Box 915, Ithaca, NY 14851 (800) 633-0299 

Excellent boats. Plus Amazon & Andes. 


_ln-d_ej)th nalural liislnry adventures. Small groups'^'*!^ 
Voyogers, Dept. NG 2, Box 9]5, Ithaca, NY I485I. 1-800-633-02W 

ENGLAND. Walk England's most spectacular land- 
scape with the specialists in Lake District hiking/sight- 
seeing tours — also Scotland and Yorkshire. Charming 
country inns, fine food. English Lakeland Ramblers, 
18 Stuyvesant Oval #1A, New York, NY 10009 



Join top paleontologists for dinosaur 
research in Colo/Wyoming/Utah! 

Dinamation 5 Dino Expeaitions 
189-A Technology Drive 
Irvine CA 92718 

You, 9 other adventur 

jn any other Galopuyui e 
ites. Machu Picchu option. Pre 

Inca Floats 510-420-1550 
131 1-N 63rd St., Emeryville CA 94608 

GALAPAGOS. Bargain Hunter special on the comfy 
yacht. Marigold. $1825. Includes air from Miami. 
Brochure. 1-800-661-2512. Galapagos Holidays, 745 
Gerrard Street East, Toronto M4M 1Y5 

GALAPAGOS EXCLUSIVES: Best yachts. Natural- 
ists, Prices. Small groups/individuals, Amazon, High- 
lands extensions. Also: other South/Central American 
destinations. Forum Travel, 91 Gregory, Pleasant Hill, 
CA 94523 (510) 671-2900 




First Class Cruises with Naturalist Guides. 

Naural History Adventures to Costa Rica 

Tented Safaris to Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda & 


10 years ol Qualily Natural History Trips 



YS 800 351-5041 

' ' P.O.BOX3656-C10 
II Sonora, CA 95370 


I_ ^ 

GALAPAGOS. Free info on-your-own Discovery 
Tours/wildlife & photo workshops. Also the essential 
250 pp. "how to" guidebook ($16.50 postpafd). Gala- 
pagos Travel, PO. Box 1220, San Juan Bautista, CA 
95045. (800)969-9014 

GALj^PAGOS ISLANDS tours since 1979. Mainland 
Ecuador/Peru/Bolivia options. Joseph Colley, LAST, 
Inc. 43 Millstone, Randallstown, MD 21133 (410)922- 

GREECE/TURKEY, April 23.— May 8, 1993. Folk 
Medicine, Craft, Village Life. Blending ancient wisdom 
and modern travel comfort. Traditional Tours, P.O. 
Box 5646N. Creswell, OR 97426 (503) 895-2957 

INDIA, NEPAL,TIBET THAILAND. Tours, treks, wild- 
life safaris, overland adventures. Huge range of trips. 
Affordable rates. Free 40 page color catalog. Hi- 
malayan Travel, 112 Prospect St., Stamford, CT 
06901 (800)225-2380 

IRELAND! Explore the magic of Ireland's past as you 
experience the beauty of her present. Walking, cy- 
cling, nding, sailing holidays exploring the incredible 
natural history and archaeology of the Irish country- 
side. Write for catalog. Celtic Nature Connections, 
Cliddaun-4, Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland. Phone/fax Oil 


Join a biologist from a major U.S. university 
on a 90toot riverboat fora 650 mile adventure 
on the Amazon River! 8 days. 7 nights' 
$1 695 includes meals, air from Miami (flights 
from other cities available), tours, entrance 
fees, side trips, transfers, lodging, and much 
more. Departs Saturdays. Call for a free 
brochure. Parrots, pink dolphins, monkeys 
Cusco and Machu Picchu extension available 
1993a1 Mar.13; Apr. 10; May 8, June 12, July 3 

International Journeys, Inc. I -800-622-6525 

62 Natural History 2/93 

/NTDOS/^SfA ' 

ISLANDS! — Experience the natural beauty of trie 
southeast's unspoiled banner islands and coastal re- 
gions. Naturalist led boat excursions. Dolphins, sandy 
beaches, shorebirds, seafood. Spartina Trails. P.O 
Box 2531. Savannah, Georgia 31401 (912) 232-4621 

PREMIER SMALL GROUP natural history safaris and 
world class fishing lodges. Great Alaska Fish Camp & 
Safaris, HC01. Box 218. Steriing. AK 99672 1-800- 
544-2261 Video/Brochure 

SONORAN DESERT TOURS: Beautiful Southern 
Arizona-Northern Mexico. Customized guided excur- 
sions. Kino Missions, Nature -Walks, Sea of Cortez. 
Great Photography. Six persons maximum. Box 
10411, Phoenix, AZ 85064 Tel/Fax (602)840-9256 

■^ l-M0-«4g-4544 ••■ 






s * S310.S645 * For Brc 


- Capiains. Box 482H. Rockland, ME CH84I 
l-SOO-648-4544 or 207-594-8007 ♦ 

Santa Fe. Navajos, Pueblos, stars, birds, rocks, sun- 
sets. Just relax, leave it to experienced guides. Call 
(800) 392-5472 or write "Ranger Escort Tours' 12320 
Country Road 26. Cortez. Colorado 81321 

Amazon Canoe Safaris, Pantanal Lodges, 

"Rio Like A Native" Tours, 

Bahian Beach Resorts, 

and more! 

Uttbeatabk prices, Unsmpassed senke, 
UttpariMed expertise 

Brazil Nuts 

1 1 50 Post Road, Fairfield, CI 06430 
(800) 553-9959 

SOUTH AMERICA-NEPAL. Costa Rica ecoadven- 
tures. Galapagos Islands cruises. Amazon lodges & 
cruises. Andes Inca trails and Patagonia. Trekking 
Nepal. Guaranteed departures & customized itiner- 
aries. Call/write for free information. Terra Adven- 
tures.. 70-15 Nansen St.. Forest Hills, NY 11375 
(800)53-TERRA or (800)538-3772 

VISIT WILD DOLPHIN! & SHARK. Dive or snori(el A- 
board m/v Dream Too! 1-800-741-5335 

Experience the real Vermont 

— Hs people, customs, lifestyles and landscapes 

For 5 caraiog of v;eekend worksriops ■■•■me to: 

Burlinglon, VT 05401 

■jr,uK{ 1,1 Vermont Settin 

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED for Green Sea Turtle re- 
search in Tortuguero. Costa Rica. Sponsored by Car- 
ibbean Conservation Corporation. Ten and 17 day 
program cost average 81,700 — SI .900 per person. 
For information call: Massachusetts Audubon Society 


minute. Color Video. Outstanding Natural History Pho- 
tography. S25.00 ppd. Naturalight Photography Box 
197. Kenrick, MN 55756 


S3. 70 per word: 16 word minimum. Display classified 
is S405 per inch. All advertisements must be prepaid. 
Rates are not structured for agency or cash discounts. 
All advertisements are accepted at NATURAL HISTO- 
RY'S discretion. Send check/money order payable to 
TORY Magazine, Central Part< West at 79th St.. Nev; 
York, NY 10024. Direct any v/ntten inquiries to Eileen 
O'Keefe at the above address. Please include your 
personal address and telephone numtier. issue pre- 
ferred, and suggested category. Deadline - 1st of the 
month, two months pno'' to cove"" date 

Women selling flowers. Brno. Czechoslovakia 

Bedrich Grunzweig 


Where Late the Sweet 
Birds Sang 

by Michael J. Bean 

One of the little-known casualties of 
this country's race to be first on the moon 
was a tiny bird found only in the coastal 
salt marshes near Cape Canaveral, Rorida. 
With the nation's eyes fixed on the heav- 
ens, few noticed that a unique form of life 
was being almost literally crushed under- 
foot. Mark Walters's account of the de- 
cline and extinction of the dusky seaside 
sparrow is a fascinating story with few he- 

roes and some rather surprising villains. 
Walters spent his childhood in Florida 
near Cape Canaveral and witnessed the 
beginning of what he calls "the transfor- 
mation of Brevard County from a jewel to 
a trinket." Years later, he returned to re- 
create the final chapters in the history of a 
bird that had almost certainly survived 
many storms equal to Hurricane Andrew 
but not the onslaught of human develop- 

A dusky seaside sparrow in Merritt Island National 
Wildlife Refuge, 1978 

JeH FooH; Bruce Coleman, Inc. 

ment. Walters tracked down many of the 
principal players in this modem conserva- 
tion drama, interviewed them, and meticu- 
lously examined their notes and corre- 
spondence. His story is a depressing one, 
recalling the determined and ultimately 
failed efforts of a few individuals strug- 
gling against bureaucratic lethargy, official 
bungling, greed, missed opportunities, and 
simple bad luck. 

Until 1960, the dusky seaside sparrow's 
salt marsh habitat had been little changed 
by the population growth that was occur- 
ring elsewhere in Florida. After World 
War n, the Air Force had begun operating 

A Shadow and a Song: Exttnction of 
THE Dusky Seaside Sparrow, by Mark 
Walters. Chelsea Green Publishing Co., 
$21.95; 256 pp. 

missile-launching facilities on Cape 
Canaveral, and their extensive DDT 
spraying of nearby marshes for mosquito 
control had affected the dusky's popula- 
tion. Nevertheless, when the spraying was 
halted in the 1950s because the local mos- 
quitoes had become resistant to DDT, 
probably several thousand birds remained. 
With their habitat still intact, their num- 
bers might have rebounded, but in 1959 
NASA began buying up much of the Cape 
for its planned space center. To build and 
operate the center, NASA wanted more ef- 
fective mosquito control. 

The successor to DDT in the unending 
war against mosquitoes was physical ma- 
nipulation of the marshes. By diking off 
the flow of salt water and flooding the 
marshes with fresh water, they would no 
longer serve as breeding areas for the most 

64 Natural History 2/93 

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Join the American Museum this summer on an exciting travel adventure designed for the whole family. 
Discovery Tours has developed three travel opportunities, taking into consideration the diversity of interests 
and special needs of family travel. Lecture programs for both children and adults will be held in tandem with 
Museum and guest lecturers who will help us explore and experience the natural wonders and traditional 
cultures of three spectacular destinations. 



July 8-17, 1993 

Explore the enchanting Monteverde Cloud Reserve, 
the wonderland of enormous trees and lianas known as 
Carara Biological Reserve, and beautiful Santa Elena 
Forest Preserve in search of monkeys, armadillos, 
coatimundis, anteaters, toucans, macaws, quetzels, 
motmots, storks and much more. 



July 11-24, 1993 

Enjoy Australia's delightful kangaroos, koalas, 
bandicoots, platypuses, crocodiles, bowerbirds, 
parrots, and extraordinary marine life as you visit 
the spectacular Great Barrier Reef, the dramatic 
Atherton Tablelands, luxuriant Daintree National 
Park, the rain forests of Lamington National Park, 

the Bathhurst Farmlands and Sydney. 



July 13-24, 1993 

Discover two vastly different wildlife areas: the 
isolated Galapagos Islands, with sea lions, 
land and marine iguanas, tortoises and a wide 
variety of seabirds, as well as the Upper 
Amazon Basin, where the rain forest offers 
refuge to monkeys, peccaries, river dolphins, 
macaws, toucans and parrots. 

Museum of 

Discovery Tours 

Central Park West at 79th Street 
New York, NY 10024-5192 
Toll-free (800) 462-8687 or 
mNYS (212) 769-5700 

Rediscover Your World 

bothersome species of mosquitoes. Fresh- 
water impoundments also attracted many 
more ducics, and no institution of govern- 
ment has had a longer love affair with 
ducks than the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser- 
vice, to which NASA turned over a major 
chunk of its marsh holdings to create the 
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. 

Unfortunately, these marshes were one 
of only two population centers for dusky 
seaside sparrows, which depended upon 
marsh grasses that grew only in tidal 
marshes, not freshwater impoundments. 
When researchers began linking the con- 
tinuing decline of the duskies to the way in 
which the marshes were being managed, 
the Fish and Wildlife Service ignored the 
information for fear of alienating both 
mosquito-minded NASA and its own 
duck-hunting constituency. 

On March 11, 1967, the dusky seaside 
sparrow became one of the first "endan- 
gered species" designated under newly en- 
acted federal legislation. Its select com- 
pany included the whooping crane, 
California condor, black-footed ferret, and 
Florida manatee. Although its chances for 
survival on Merritt Island were grim at the 
time it received legal protection, the out- 
look for the dusky brightened the follow- 

ing year- when a second major population 
center — with more than a thousand 
birds — was located in the Saint John's 
River marshes nearby. 

Those brightened prospects quickly 
faded, however, when plans were an- 
nounced in 1969 to build a highway 
through the center of the newly discovered 
habitat. In the opinion of local developers 
and officials, the space center could be a 
major tourist attraction in its own right, a 
side trip for the millions of visitors des- 
tined for Orlando's Disney World — if only 
a new road linking the two sites were built. 
Walters recounts a series of failures on the 
part of the Fish and Wildlife Service: to 
anticipate the explosion of growth that the 
road would fuel, to take advantage of land 
acquisition opportunities when it finally 
recognized the threat, and to manage ef- 
fectively the parcels of land that it ulti- 
mately acquired. 

In a few short years the dusky seaside 
sparrows were nearly gone. The final por- 
tion of Walters's book chronicles a last- 
ditch effort to perpetuate the dusky's lin- 
eage with the handful of birds — all 
males — that were still alive. The idea was 
to crossbreed the surviving males in cap- 
tivity with females of a closely related 

subspecies, and then backcross with the 
resulting offspring until a nearly "pure" 
dusky resulted. The Fish and Wildlife Ser- 
vice could not decide whether this was 
permissible under the Endangered Species 
Act and, according to Walters's account, 
their vacillation, hedging, and dawdling 
contributed to the dusky's ongoing slide 
toward extinction. 

Ultimately, the Fish and Wildlife Ser- 
vice washed its hands of the bird, allowing 
the few remaining captive males to be 
housed at Disney World, where the cross- 
breeding effort would be carried out with 
strictly private funding. Walters saves his 
final arrow for Disney World. Hinting that 
their motives from the beginning had been 
only to gamer favorable publicity, Walters 
alleges that Disney fabricated a story that 
a storm destroyed the remaining dusky hy- 
brids; this story was to cover up the fact 
that after the last pure dusky. Orange 
Band, died in 1987, Disney World lost in- 
terest in the project and allowed the hybrid 
offspring to perish through neglect. Log- 
books that supposedly documented this 
neglect mysteriously disappeared. 

The death of the last dusky seaside spar- 
row on June 16, 1987, was the first extinc- 
tion of a North American bird since the 


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Member Services 
Central Park West at 79th Street 
New York, NY 10024-9981 

66 Natural History 2/93 

passing of the heath hen in Massachusetts 
more than a half-century earlier. Only two 
months before, the last CaUfomia condor 
had been taken from the wild as part of a 
last-ditch captive-breeding effort. Al- 
though condors have bred successfully in 
captivity, whether they will ultimately sur- 
vive reintroduction to the wild is an open 
question. One of two capti\'e-bred condors 
released into the wild in 1 99 1 recendy per- 
ished after drinking from a puddle of an- 
tifreeze near a roadway. 

The dusky seaside sparrow and the Cal- 
ifornia condor illustrate the odds against 
survival for any species reduced to a mere 
handful of members. Yet the raging con- 
troversy in the Pacific Northwest over the 
northern spotted owl and the fumre of its 
ancient forest habitat shows the difficulties 
of building a consensus for conser\ ation 
when a species is still relati\ely abundant. 

Mark Walters's account of the dusky 
seaside sparrow appears at an important 
time. The Endangered Species Act is sud- 
denly the object of much public and con- 
gressional hostility because of controver- 
sies over the northern spotted owl and 
other less-known species. The new Con- 
gress that convened in January will con- 
sider a number of proposals to change the 
act, including many that would cripple its 
ability to stave off extinction for the more 
than 700 plants and animals that the act 
now protects. Walters's book reminds us 
how fragile the present law's protection is 
and invites us to ponder whether a weak- 
ened law could possibly hold oft' a torrent 
of other extinctions. 

In his classic work. A Sand County Al- 
manac, Aldo Leopold wrote that "for one 
species to mourn the death of another is a 
new thing under the sun." Mark Walters's 
book is something newer still, a work of 
literature that embodies both joumahstic 
investigation and a personal requiem for a 
vanished life form. 

The saga of the dusky seaside sparrow- 
is a riveting tale. Walters is a talented 
writer with a keen understanding of nat- 
ural history. His story of the dusky is both 
tragedy and farce. Everyone old enough to 
read this book once shared the earth with 
the dusky, but few ever heard of it and 
fewer still ever saw it. Yet readers wUl 
share Walters's profound sense of loss that 
the dusky seaside sparrow is no more. 

Michael J. Bean, an environmental 
lawyer, is chairtnan of the Wildlife Pro- 
gram of the Environmental Defense Fund 
and author of The E\'olution of National 
Wildlife Law. 

Aiiiei iLaii .viuseuiii ui ->aiui ai nisiui \ 




^hL^^^^i t a l^^^^I 


^^E^ ,„^ liwp j^ 

^^R EEC ^K. 

- ■ ■ 


Stepping Stones of Culture 
June 29 - July 13, 1993 

The islands of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, among the 
loveliest in the world, are steeped in m\th. legend and histon,'. 
This summer, a team of American Museum and guest lecturers 
invite you to join them for a special voyage among these islands 
aboard the luxurious Aurora I. Cushioned between visits to the 
great cities of Athens and Barcelona, we will enjo\' the dramatic 
landscapes, archeological sites, historic towns and charming 
villages of Santorini, Crete. 
Malta. Sicily, the Aeolian 
Islands. Ponza, Corsica and 
Sardinia. Join us for an 
unforgettable Mediterranean 

Museum of 
Discovery Cruises 

Central Park West at 79th Su-ect 

New York. NY 10024-5192 

Toll-free (800) 462-8687 

or in NYS (212) 769-5700 

Rediscover Your World 



AGES 8-14 

FACES explores the lives and cultures of 
people around the world with exciting 
articles, tales, legends, puzzles, and 

Please send check or money order payable to 
FACES, American Museum of Natural His- 
tory, Central Park West at 79th Street, New 
York, NY 10024. AMNH Members pay just 
$18.95 (foreign add $8) for a full year sub- 
scription of 9 issues. 



Sumatra, Java and Bali 

July 11-28, 1993 

With ancient temples, exotic arts and 
architecture, lush rice-terraced moun- 
tain slopes and unusual wildlife, the 
islands of Indonesia are a natural and 
cultural treasure trove. Join a Pacific 
ethnologist for a look at Sumatra's 
orangutans and Lake Toba region, 
Java's magnificent temples of 
Borobudur and Prambanan and Bali's 
renowned landscapes and traditions. 

Museum of 
\^sirMm History 

Discovery Tours 

Central Park West at 79th St. 

New York, NY 10024-5192 

Toll-free (800) 462-8687 

orinNYS (212)769-5700 

On the Solar 
System's Edge 

by Gail S. Cleere 

In the southwestern sky, brilliant Venus 
marks the general direction of a newly dis- 
covered member of the solar system. The 
object is impossible to spot without a large 
telescope, but its location in the sky is near 
the "circlet" in Pisces. It shares the far 
reaches of the solar system with Pluto and 
is only some 125 miles in diameter. Dis- 
covered by David Jewitt of the University 
of Hawaii and Jane Luu of the University 
of California at Berkeley, the reddish ob- 
ject has been temporarily designated 1992 

A formal name will not be bestowed on 
the object until its orbit is better known — 
perhaps in a year or so. Jewitt and Luu like 
the name "Smiley" after George Smiley, 
the John le Carre spy, but the International 
Astronomical Union, a worldwide organi- 
zation of astronomers and astrophysicists, 
will make the final decision. 

1992 QBI represents the first discovery 
of one of the "planetesimals" or "mini- 
planets" that are assumed to orbit the sun 
at a distance one-third to three times as far 
as the most distant known planet, Pluto — 
the realm of the so-called Kuiper Belt, a 
flat disk of large, inactive comets that are 
thought to be orbiting the sun in the same 
plane and direction as the planets. 1992 
QB 1 's orbit is more typical of the planets 
than is Pluto's orbit, which is tilted away 
from the plane of the ecliptic by almost 18 
degrees. (The postulated Oort cloud, 
which harbors trillions of comets even far- 
ther from the sun than the Kuiper Belt, is 
thought to be the origin of the comets that 
become visible in our sky. Gerard Kuiper, 
a Dutch astronomer working in the United 
States, proposed the existence of the belt's 
icy fragments, which, he reasoned, would 
be left over from the formation of the plan- 
ets.) Largely because of the bitter cold in 
the far reaches of the solar systein, 1992 
QB 1 has probably changed little since the 
major planets coalesced out of gas and 

dust at the birth of our solar system some 
4.5 billion years ago. 

Jewitt and Luu report that the reddish 
color of the new object is consistent with a 
surface composition rich in organic mater- 
ial that has been bombarded with cosmic 
rays over the eons. However, Jewitt notes, 
1992 QBl is so distant that this radiation 
has changed the object's structure only 
very slightly over time, making it a great 
solar system time capsule of sorts. 

After searching the edge of the known 
solar system for five years, Jewitt and Luu 
found 1992 QBl on August 30, 1992. "No 
one was ever completely comfortable with 
the idea that the outer fringes of the solar 
system could be completely empty," says 
David Jewitt. "1992 QBl is probably a 
primeval remnant of all that early dust and 

Astronomer Jim De Young, who has 
been using images taken with the 61 -inch 
astrometric (position-measuring) tele- 
scope in Flagstaff, Arizona, to track the 
object, is one of a handful of scientists 
who are observing 1992 QBl with the ac- 
curacy needed to help calculate its orbit. 
Because of the paucity of observing time 
available on the world's largest telescopes, 
only a few astronomers — in Hawaii, Ari- 
zona, Texas, and Australia — are observing 
1992 QBl. 

The Planets in February 

Mercury is visible in the early evening 
western sky during the latter half of the 
month. Best viewing will be right after 
midmonth, when the planet nears its great- 
est distance (elongation) from the sun — 
about 18 degrees east of the sun. Just after 
sunset on the 23d, look for a sliver of a 
new moon 3 degrees north of Mercury. 
Venus is high above them both. 

Venus steals the show all month long in 
the southwestern evening skies. It reaches 
its greatest brilliancy of the year on the 

68 Natural History 2/93 

Celestial Events 

24th, coming within one-half a degree of 
the moon on the same evening. Watch as 
Venus appears to perch atop the illumi- 
nated cusp of this four-day-old moon — a 
great performance on a cold winter 
evening. The show ends by 8:00 p.m. with 
the setting of the moon. Seen through a 
telescope or binoculars, Venus appears as 
a crescent. 

Mars continues to put on a good show 
in the constellation Gemini, where it is 
well up in the southeast as the sky grows 
dark. The red planet hes almost on a line 
between the two bright stars that mark the 
twins Castor and Pollux and the V-shaped 
asterism called the Hyades in Taurus the 
Bull. (Don't mistake Mars for the red star 
Aldebaran in the Hyades cluster.) Over the 
nights of February 1-4 watch as the wax- 
ing gibbous moon skims the top of the 
Hyades, passes high above Orion the 
Hunter, and then glides just below brilliant 
Mars on the 4th. 

Jupiter rises about midevening in the 
constellation Virgo and is up for the rest of 
the night. Around midnight, brilliant 
Jupiter dominates the southeastern sky, 
just above the bright star Spica. On the 
10th, the waning gibbous moon passes 
both the planet and star. 

Saturn emerges from behind the sun 
just before sunrise very late in month, but 
is lost in the solar glare. 

Uranus and Neptune are to the left of 
the handle of the Sagittarius "teapot," ris- 
ing together some two hours before the 
sun. If you know exactly where to look, 
they may be barely visible with binoculars 
before twilight very low on the southeast- 
em horizon. On the 17th and 18th, the 
waning crescent moon pays a call. The lat- 
est news about Uranus is that it contains 
the ion H3+; the discovery was made with 
Great Britain's infrared telescope on 
Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The ion is thought 
to be a building block of more complex in- 

terstellar molecules in the universe. Dr. 
Laurence Trafton, a scientist at the Uni- 
versity of Texas at Austin's McDonald 
Observatory, says "Astronomers have 
been looking for years for this ion in inter- 
stellar space to test the hypotheses that H3* 
plays a central role in the chemical evolu- 
tion of molecular clouds, where stars are 
bom. All life as we know it requires com- 
plex molecules, and we know that when 
H3"' combines with other molecules, it ini- 
tiates the interstellar chemistry to build 
bigger molecules. This is a way of going 
from the simple to the complex." Trafton 
cautions that scientists have not yet estab- 
Ushed that the chemistry involving H3* has 
any relation to the chemistry that led to the 
building blocks for life on Earth. "It is sim- 
ply an early step." 

Pluto rises about midnight, and by 
dawn is well above the southern horizon. 
At 13.7 magnitude, it remains hidden in 
the constellation Serpens and requires a 
detailed chart to locate. On February 18, 
sixty-three years ago, Clyde Tombaugh, a 
young astronomer from Kansas working at 
the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, dis- 
covered the ninth planet in the solar sys- 
tem while he was looking at photographic 
plates taken with the observatory's thir- 
teen-inch telescope. After making this mo- 
mentous discovery, he casually walked 
down the hill to report his finding to his 
boss, and then walked to town to see Gary 
Cooper in The Virginian. 

The Moon is full on the 6th at 6:55 p.m., 
EST; reaches last-quarter on the 13th at 
9:57 A.M., EST; is new on the 21st at 8:05 
A.M., EST; and does not reach first-quarter 
until March 1st 10:46 a.m., EST 

Gail S. Cleere writes on popular astron- 
omy and is a founding member of the 
International Dark Sky Association, an 
organization dedicated to preserving the 
skies for astronomy. 

I — HeaiscoverYourWorSd — 


Land Adventures with 
Expert Lecturers 

Cultures and Folkart 

of the Oaxaca Valley 

March 6-14, 1993 

Towns, villages and markets in the 
Oaxaca Valley and the ancient sites 
of Monte Alban and Mitla. 

Mexico's Copper Canyon 
March 13-20, 1993 

The Sierra Madres, Copper Can- 
yon and the towns of Creel, 
Divisadero and El Fuerte. 

China's Silk Road by Train 
May 7-21, 1993 

Ancient cities and stunning land- 
scapes, including Beijing, Xi'an, 
Binglingsi Buddhist Caves, 
Dunhuang, Mogao Caves, Turfan 
and Urumchi. 

Berlin to Istanbul by Train 
May 13-26,1993 

Cities and towns of Eastern Eu- 
rope, including Berlin, Dresden, 
Prague, Krakow, Budapest, 
Transylvania, Sofia and Istanbul. 

Islands of Indonesia: 

Sumatra, Java and BaU 

July 11-28, 1993 

Sumatra's orangutans and tradi- 
tional villages; Java's renowned 
archeological sites ; and the beauti- 
ful art and architecture of Bali. 

Museum of 

Discovery Tours 

Central Park West at 79th St. 
New York, NY 10024 

(212) 769-5700 in NYS 
Toll-free (800) 462-8687 

Shades of Carolina Rice 

The coastal plantations are gone, but an African-influenced style of cooking remains 
by Raymond Sokolov 

"In all these years, she's never wrecked 
the rice." That nauseatingly condescend- 
ing line (or something quite like it; 1 quote 
from memory) capped a television ad that 
used to run seemingly every ten minutes 
in prime time. I haven't seen it lately, but I 
think it still speaks to our national ner- 
vousness about rice. Indeed, throughout 
northern Europe and many of its former 
colonies, a lack of assurance and easy 
mastery of the world's most popular food 
grain is endemic. 

I am not talking about sophisticated 
preparations. What I'm saying is that if 
you buttonhole people on the street in 
New York or Dubuque or Seattle (or Lon- 
don or Mainz or Lyons) and ask them how 
they cook plain, raw white rice, you will 
not get a lot of confident replies. All bets 
are off here if you hit on people of Latin or 
Asian heritage. For them rice is the staff of 
life. Their cuisines are built around it, and 
they know what to do with it in order to 
produce the kind of rice they like. 

The English-speaking world is not rice- 
centered. For us, rice is primarily a starchy 
side dish, like potatoes; it is almost never 
the point of the meal, as it almost always is 
in hundreds of millions of Chinese house- 
holds. The Chinese language enshrines 
this dominance of rice in the Chinese diet 
by making a single word stand both for 
rice and for food in general: fan. In con- 
cept, then, a Chinese dish or meal can be 
construed as rice with other things added 
for variety of taste and nutrition. Likewise 
in Japan, gohan, the word for cooked rice, 
is also the word for a meal. 

English appears to offer the same syn- 
onymy: meal-grain-repast. But this is only 
superficially the case. Meal/repast de- 

scends from a word meaning fixed time, as 
in modem German mal, while meal/grain 
comes from the same root that gives us 
mill. Meal is grain that has been milled. So 
for English speakers, the grain-centered 
diet in the Asian sense is a truly exotic no- 
tion. I still have difficulty accepting, for 
example, that sushi for the Japanese is not 
identified fundamentally as a raw fish con- 
coction but as mini-cuisine based on rice 
tossed in specially seasoned (rice) vinegar. 

Nevertheless, one American region, the 
lowlands of South Carolina, does have a ri- 
zocentric heritage. Louisiana, a rice-pro- 
ducing state, lives on rice, but not in the 
overwhelming and unique way that South 
Carolina did for so long. 

Those days are over. They ended along 
with slavery and the rise of machine- 
farmed rice on drier land elsewhere. I vis- 
ited a defunct South Carolina rice planta- 
tion for this magazine some years ago, 
looking for survivals of foodways from 
antebellum times. The great estate I saw 
still had working sluices and other rem- 
nants of the slave-made-and-maintained 
rice farm that had once flourished there. 
The modem owners used the place to hunt 
birds that fed on the grasses and to fish in 
the old paddies. It was a haunting sight and 
the memory of it gives me a shght shiver 
now when I see a box labeled Carolina rice 
and reahze that virtually no rice comes 
from the region any more — only the name 

This vanished world has just come to 
life again, for readers anyway, in Karen 
Hess's meticulously researched study The 
Carolina Rice Kitchen: The African Con- 
nection (University of South Carolina 
Press, 1992). Hess has combed the records 

with the energy familiar to readers of her 
annotated editions of Martha Washing- 
ton 's Booke of Cookery and The Virginia 
House-Wife. In the lost wet world of low- 
land Carolina she finds not only a shining 
exception to our historical insensitivity to 
rice, but she also documents the cmcial 
hnk between African and southern Amer- 
ican cooking. 

Anyone who cared to think about the 
matter always knew that certain southern 
ingredients were brought across the At- 
lantic with slavery and must have perme- 
ated the white menu because black cooks 
put them on the slaveholder's table. Okra 
is one such African American immigrant 
assimilated into the white cuisine of the 
Old South. Black-eyed peas have never re- 
ally lost their African flavor. But in South 
Carolina, when mixed with rice in Hop- 
pin' John, they are everybody's emblem- 
atic New Year's dish. 

Hoppin' John, okra — the fist is easily 
expanded — were only the most visible ev- 
idence of the influence of black cooks on 
the South at large. But few people have 
suspected, or dared to say, how much 
more fundamental black cooking was to 
the whole rich plantation cuisine that has 
survived as the most complete and thriv- 
ing traditional regional menu of the United 
States (die cooking of what is now the 
Southwest evolved as a northem offshoot 
of Spain's colonization long before New 
Mexico or even Texas had had their con- 
nection fully severed from Mexico). 

By segregating contemporary black 
cookery as soul food, both black and 
white enthusiasts have actuaUy undercut 
the importance of Africa in the kitchens of 
the South, early and late. Anyone who 

70 Natural History 2/93 



k woman fans rice by the Santee River, South Carolina, circa 1890. 

The Rice Museum: Georgetown, South Carolina 

cares to take an unprejudiced look at the 
dishes called southern and the dishes 
called soul food will be hard pressed to 
find a significant difference between the 
two. The cuisines are fundamentally the 
same, in fact and in origin. 

The cooks who evolved the menus for 
the Big House of slaveholding plantations 
were black women. Just as in France, no- 
blemen tended to appropriate the creations 
of their chefs, so too the white culture of 
the South has taken an unfair share of the 
credit for southern cooking. This claim 
doesn't stand up to logical scrutiny, espe- 
cially when a cursory scan of the recipes 
in a survey of the Creole cookery of the 
West Indies such as Elizabeth Lambert 
Ortiz's The Complete Book of Caribbean 
Cooking (M. Evans, 1973) leads inex- 
orably to the conclusion that United States 
southern cooking is not unique to our 
southeast. It is the northernmost extension 
of a continuum of dishes common to all 
the slaveholding territories of the Atlantic 
and Caribbean New World. The similari- 
ties can only be explained by the single 
factor common to every one of these 
colonies, whether French, Spanish, Eng- 
lish, or Dutch in governance: African 

The transatlantic commerce in people 
led to a transplantation of their foodways 
and then to a creative adaptation to new 
conditions and new ingredients. Viewed 
this way, the hush puppy of our South is a 
first cousin of the acaraje of Brazil, with 
commeal substituted for black-eyed pea 
flour. Both are deep-fried. We might say 
"southern-fried." This is the conveniently 
nonraciai term we use for our most popu- 
lar native dish: chicken that has been 


dredged in flour and fried. But southern 
frying is not a method that can properly be 
claimed as ours. The entire Creole (read: 
ex-colonial slaveholding) New World sur- 
vives on southern-fried fish and vegeta- 
bles and fritters. 

Hess shows how the settlers of Carolina 
brought the island Creole culture with 
them from Barbados and the Bahamas in 
the seventeenth century. They brought 
their slaves and a Creole attitude bom of a 
century of colonial life in the islands. Al- 
most half of them, moreover, were French 
Huguenots. Many of their slaves already 
understood rice culture and cookery, be- 
cause they came from the rice lands of 
Africa. When they saw the rivers of the 
Carolina low country, they knew what to 
do. Carolina rice was the famous result. 

In the kitchen, they built a New World 
regional cuisine around rice. That is Hess's 
main subject. She weaves a fine web of 
careful speculation about the path that rice 
took to Africa and how the non-African 
rice dish pilau made its long, slow way to 

Her thesis maintains that rice followed 
Islam westward through Malay-speaking 
Madagascar across Africa to the rice lands 
of West Africa, the region that was also the 
original source of the slaves who were 
forced to work New Worid fields. This 
route of transmission, Hess argues, 
brought to Carolina people accustomed to 
cooking rice in a special style peculiar 
now to Carolina tradition and to India (and 
food cultures related historically to India). 

The basic biology of rice lies behind 
this connection. Both India and plantation 
South Carolina evolved cuisines based on 
long-grain rice. There are many other vari- 
eties of rice in the world, each of which 
has special cooking qualities (Italy's short- 
grain rice lends itself to the gradual ab- 
sorption of stock in risotto, Spain's 
medium-grain rice behaves similarly in 
the restricted environment of the paella 
pan). But long-grain rice is the main staple 
of Asia's billions, who have settied, as 
Hess acutely observes, on two radically 
different methods of cooking it: the Indian 
and the Chinese. 

In the Chinese method, a measured 
quantity of rice is combined with a mea- 
sured quantity of salted water (conven- 
tionally in the ratio, by volume, of one to 
two, although somewhat less water prob- 
ably yields better results). After the water 
boils and cooks the rice to the point where 
most of it has been absorbed, and steam 
holes appear on the surface, the pot is cov- 
ered, heat reduced to almost nothing and 

the rice left to steam for several minutes 
until all the water is absorbed. 

This is the more energy-efficient 
method, and it is the world's favorite. 
However, it produces a slightly sticky rice, 
ideal for consumption with chopsticks, 
rather than the completely separate, fluffy 
grains created by the Carolina/Indian 

That basic method is: Bring a large, un- 
measured quantity of salted water to a full 

Medium-Grain Rice: 
The Spanish Method 

Arroz con magro de cerdo y habas 

Rice with Pork and Fava Beans 

(Slightly adapted from The Heritage 

of Spanish Cooking, by Alicia Rios 

and Lourdes March, Random 

House, 1992) 

'/i cup olive oil 

'A pound lean pork, diced 

13 ounces shelled fresh fava bean 

1 tomato (3 'A ounces), peeled 

and finely chopped 
1 teaspoon paprika 
5% cups chicken or beef broth 
1 pinch saffron 

I'/i cups medium-grain rice 

1. Heat the oil in a casserole. Fry the 
diced pork, followed by the fava 
beans and tomato. Add the paprika, 
followed immediately by the broth. 

2. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, accord- 
ing to the tenderness of the beans, 
then add the saffron. 

3. Check the seasoning, add salt to 
taste, then add the rice and cook 
uncovered over medium heat for 16 
to 18 minutes. Taste the rice to 
check that it is ready. Remove from 
the heat and serve immediately. 

Yield: 4 servings 

Short-Grain Rice: 
The Italian Method 

Risotto with Celery 

(Slightly adapted from Essentials of 

Classic Italian Cooking, by 

Marcella Hazan, Knopf, 1992) 

5 cups homemade beef broth or 1 

cup canned beef broth dUuted 

with 4 cups water 
3 tablespoons butter 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
'A cup chopped onion 
2 cups celeiy stalk, diced very 

I tablespoon chopped leafy tops 

of the celery heart 

boil. Then add an unmeasured quantity of 
rice but one that is much smaller than the 
volume of boiling water. Cook over high 
heat for five to ten minutes. Drain the 
water. Return the rice to the fire, cover the 
pan, reduce the heat to very low, and 
"soak" until done. 

Raymond Sokolov is a writer whose spe- 
cial interests are the history and prepara- 
tion of food. 

2 cups imported Italian risotto 

[short-grain] rice 


Black pepper, freshly ground 
'A cup freshly grated parmigiano- 

reggiano cheese 
1 tablespoon chopped parsley 

1. Bring the broth to a very slow, 
steady simmer on a burner near 
where you'll be cooking the risotto. 

2. Put 2 tablespoons of the butter, the 
vegetable oil, and the chopped 
onion in a broad, sturdy pot. Turn 
heat to medium high. Cook and stir 
the onion until it becomes translu- 
cent, then add half the diced celery 
stalk, all the chopped leaves, and a 
pinch of salt. Cook for 2 or 3 min- 
utes, stirring frequently to coat the 
celery well. 

3. Add the rice, stirring quickly and 
thoroughly until the grains are 
coated well. Add 'A cup of simmer- 
ing broth and cook the rice, stirring 
constantly with a long wooden 
spoon, wiping the sides and bottom 
of the pot clean as you stir, until the 
liquid is gone. Never stop stiiring, 
and be sure to wipe the bottom of 
the pot completely clean frequently 
or the rice will stick to it. When 
there is no more liquid in the pot, 
add another A cup, continuing al- 
ways to stir as before. Maintain 
heat at a lively pace. 

4. When the rice has cooked for 10 
minutes, add the remaining diced 
celery, and continue to stir, adding 
broth a little at a time. 

5. Cook the rice until tender but firm 
to the bite, with barely enough liq- 
uid remaining to make the consis- 
tency somewhat runny. Turn off the 
heat, add a few grindings of pepper, 
the remaining tablespoon of butter, 
and all the grated parmigiano, and 
stir thoroughly until the cheese 
melts and clings to the rice. Taste 
and correct for salt. Mix in the 
chopped parsley. Transfer to a plat- 
ter and sei've promptly. 

Yield: 6 servings 

72 Natural History 2/93 


Exploring the world with expert lecturers 



Bombaij to Alexandria 

April 1-20. 1993 

Ancient and modem cities, including Bombay, India: Muscat 
and Salalah in Oman; Sanaa, Yemen; Jeddali. Saudi Arabia; 
Petra, Jordan; and the Suez Canal and Alexandria in Egypt. 
Ship: 64-cabin Sea Goddess 



Mail 9-24. 1993 

Medieval ruins, archeological sites and spectacular landscapes 
of the Scilly, Skellig and Aran Islands, Dartmouth and Donegal, 
lona, St. Kilda, the Orkneys, Shetlands, Mousa and Fair Isle. 
Ship: 41 -cabin Polaris 

June 11-23. 1993 

Tortoises, turtles, marine and land iguanas, sea lions, a magnifi- 
cent array of birdlife and dramatic volcanic landscapes. 
Ship: 20-cabin Isabela II 


Rediscovering Russia and the Baltics 

June 14-29. 1993 

Historic ports, including St. Petersburg, Kronstadt and 
Kaliningrad in Russia; Tallinn, Estonia; Riga, Latvia; Klaipeda, 
Lithuania; Gdansk. Poland: Rugen and Lubeck in Gemiany: 
and Amsterdam, Holland. 
Ship: 41 -cabin Polaris. 

June 29 - JuKj 12. 1995 

Beautiful Mediterranean islands, volcanoes, ancient sites and 
charming towns at ports-of-call on Santorini, Crete, Malta, 
Sicily and Corsica, ending at the city of Barcelona. 
Ship: 44-cabin Aurora I 


Alaska and the Russian Far East 

June 29 - JuKj 11, 1993 

Wildlife and magnificent scenery from Homer to Nome, in 
eluding Alaska's Katmai Peninsula, the Aleutians and Pi ibilols. 
and Russia's Providenya and Arakamchechen Islands. 
Ship: 69-cabin World Discoverer 

Bergen to Spitsbergen 
June 30 - Julq 15, 1993 

Norway's spectacular fjords, as well as glaciers, icebergs, pack 
ice and Arctic flora and fauna of the Lofoten Islands, Bear 
Island, and Spitsbergen. 
Ship: 4 1 -cabin Polaris 

Julq 10-19. 1993 

Spectacular fjords, channels, rivers, glaciers, whales, sea lions, 
bears and a wealth of birdlife in Alaska's Inside Passage. 
Ship: 37-cabin Sea Lion 

Juki 19 - August 5. 1993 

An historic transit aboard a powerful icebreaker through 
Canada's ice-packed Northwest Passage, stopping at lemotc 
Inuit villages and islands associated with great Arctic explor- 
ers of the past. 
Ship: 59-cabin Kapitaii Klilel?iiikov 

Retracing the Odifsseif in the 

August 16 - September L 1993 

Historic islands, cities and sites in the Mediterranean along 
Odysseus' route, including Istanbul, Troy. Mycenae, Malta. 
Jerba, Corsica. Monte Circeo, Naples, Corfu and llhaca. 
Ship: 44-cabin Aurora I 

American Museum of Natural History/Discovery Cruises and Tours 
Central Park West at 79th Street New York, NY 10024-5192 

(800) 462-8687 or (212) 769-5700" 
Monday - Friday, 9-5 E:S J; 1 

At the American Museum of Natural History 

"Jumbo" Film Festival 

In conjunction with the Museum's cur- 
rent exhibition "Jumbo: The World-Fa- 
mous Elephant," six films about elephants 
will be presented in the Linder Theater on 
Saturday, February 6, starting at 10:30 
A.M. The films, which are free with Mu- 
seum admission, are Horton Hatches the 
Egg, Dumbo, Maya, Babar's First Step, 
Elephant Boy, and Billy Rose's Jumbo. 

A Sci-Fi Classic 

February's feature in the classic sci- 
ence-fiction film series will be This Island 
Earth. In the 1955 production directed by 
Joseph M. Newman, earthlings find tiiem- 
selves trapped on a planet being bom- 
barded by meteors from another planet. 
The film is preceded by a thirty-minute 
shde show hosted by Brian Sullivan, the 
Hayden Planetarium's production de- 
signer, and will be shown on Saturday, 
February 6, at 3:00 p.m. in the Kaufmann 
Theater. Tickets are $7 ($4 for members). 

An American Romance 

The relationship of photographer Alfred 
Stieglitz and artist Georgia O'Keeffe is the 
subject of a lecture by Benita Eisler, a 
writer and editor who has just completed 
O'Keeffe-Stieglitz: An American Ro- 
mance. She will speak in the Kaufmann 
Theater on Wednesday, February 10, at 
7:00 P.M. Tickets are $10 ($6 for mem- 

Understanding Animal Ways 

Naturalist Bill Robinson returns to the 
Museum for a thirteenth year to present 
"The World of Animals," for children five 
years and up, on Saturday, February 20, at 
11:30 a.m. and 1:30 rm. Robinson will ap- 
pear on stage with a legless lizard, an alli- 
gator, a snapping turtle, an ai-madillo, a 
Bumiese python, and other live animals. 
Tickets are $8 ($5 for members). 

Rio Roosevelt Expedition— 1992 

Tweed Roosevelt paiTicipated in a joint 
Brazilian-American expedition last year 
that retraced his great-grandfather 
Theodore Roosevelt's 1914 exploration of 
the River of Doubt (later renamed Rio 
Roosevelt). On Thursday, February 25, at 
7:00 P.M. in the Kaufmann Theater, Tweed 

DeLong star ruby, magnified three times 

Harold and Erica Van Pelt 

74 Natural History 2/93 

Roosevelt will talk about his adventure 
down the Amazon tributary. Tickets are 
$10 ($7 for members). Call (212) 769- 
5606 for ticket availability. 


The Museum's education department 
continues its free programs from a non- 
European perspective for the Columbus 

Traditional jazz and African dance will 
be performed by the Savoy Swingers and 
by Message From Our Ancestors in the 
Main Auditorium on Thursday, February 
4, at 7:30 p.m. 

In the Linder Theater: Chinese- Ameri- 
can writers will read selections from their 
works on Friday, February 5, at 7:00 p.m. 
Writers include David Wong Louie, 
Stephen Lo, Fae Myenne Ng, and Linda 
Ching Sledge. On Sunday, February 28, at 
2:00 and 4:00 p.m., C. Scoby Stroman pre- 
sents poetry, dance, slides, and videos 
showing African American contributions 
to folk art. 

In the Kaufmann Theater: Mickey D. 
and Friends will give an African Ameri- 
can presentation that includes plantation 
slave dances, 1940 "barbershopsanding," 
and ballroom duets on Sunday, February 
7, at 2:00 and 4:00 rm. On Sunday, Febru- 
ary 14, at 2:00 p.m.. University of Col- 
orado's Evelyn Hu-DeHart, professor of 
history and director of the Center for Stud- 
ies of Ethnicity and Race in America, wOl 
talk about Asians in the Americas, their 
immigration, settlement, and relationship 
with other ethnic groups. Kimati Dinizulu 
and the Kotoko Society will offer 
"Sankofa," a musical genre of the African 
diaspora played on instruments like the 
aben (warrior horn) of Jamaica and the 
vaccine (bamboo trumpet) of Haiti on 
Sunday, February 2 1 , at 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. 

In the Leonhardt People Center: folk 
music by the West African Akyene Baako 
Ensemble, blues dance forms by the 
Urban Griot Society, and Dorothy Hen- 
derson and the B-1 Storytellers" dramati- 
zation of the story of the Middle Passage 
will be among the events presented every 
Saturday and Sunday in February from 
1:00 to 4:30 P.M. 

These programs are made possible in 
part by grants from The Chase Manhattan 

Bank, Citibank, the Samuel and May 
Rudin Foundation. Vidda Foundation, and 
the family of Frederick H. Leonhardt. For 
a complete schedule, call (212) 769-5315. 

African American Cemeteries 

Recent cemetery excavations that have 
added to what is known about New York 
City's early African American community 
will be highlighted in three Monday 
evening lectures, beginning February 22. 
Cheryl Wilson, urban historian and an- 
thropologist, will host the programs. Se- 
ries tickets are $30. Call (212) 769-5305. 

The Niger River's Ancient Cities 

Rice University professor of anthropol- 
ogy Roderick J. Mcintosh will give a 
slide-illustrated talk about the recently 
discovered city mounds and funerary tu- 
muli of the Niger River floodplain on 
Tuesday, February 23. Tickets are $15. 
Call (212) 769-5305. 

Cross-Cultural Films 

How filmmakers have represented other 
cultures will be explored in scenes from 
documentary classics on three Tuesday 
evenings beginning February 23. Elaine 
Charnov, programmer of the Margaret 
Mead Film and Video Festival, will host 
the event, which will include Chang: A 
Drama of the Wilderness, Grey Gardens, 
Babakiuria, ?caA Harold of Orange. Series 
tickets are $30. Call (212) 769-5305. 

Wonderful Wildflowers 
OF the Northeast 

From carnivorous bog plants to arctic 
creepers, the northeastern United States is 
home to thousands of species of wildflow- 
ers. William Schiller, lecmrer in botany 
for the Museum's education department, 
will give two identical series of five shde- 
illustrated lectures, the first on Mondays at 
2:30 P.M. beginning February 22, and the 
second on Thursdays at 7:00 RM. begin- 
ning February 25. Series tickets are $40. 
Call (212) 769-5305. 

The Museum's Gem Collections 

Joseph J. Peters, senior scientific assis- 
tant in the Department of Mineral Sci- 
ences, will talk about four sections of the 

Museum's gem collections: diamonds; 
emeralds, rubies, and sapphires; semi- 
precious gems; and ornamental and or- 
ganic gems. Tickets for the series of four 
Thursday evenings, starting February 25, 
are $35. Peters will also lead a tour of the 
J.P. Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems on 
Friday, February 26. Tickets are $15. Call 
(212) 769-5305. 

Young Scientists in Training 

Ten high- school juniors started doing 
research recently under a new program, 
the PrecoUege Science Collaborative for 
Urban Minority Youth, at the American 
Museum of Natural History. Over the next 
five years, thirty-five students will design 
their own two-year projects at the Mu- 
seum in biology, paleontology, and ecol- 
ogy. Scientists from the Museum and Co- 
lumbia University's Teachers College will 
be mentors to the students in twice-weekly 
sessions and colloquia throughout the 
school year. The Howard Hughes Medical 
Institute provided support for the program. 

Under the Stars 

Performers Cheryl Byron and Some- 
thing Positive will dance, play music, and 
tell traditional African sky lore under the 
Planetarium's star-filled dome. The pro- 
gram will be on Tuesday, February 16, at 
7:00 RM. Tickets are $10 ($8 for mem- 

As part of the Planetarium's ongoing 
lecmre series, Margaret Geller of the Har- 
vard Smithsonian Astrophysical Observa- 
tory will give an illustrated talk, "Map- 
ping a Large Scale Structure of the 
Uiuverse" on Wednesday, February 10, at 
7:30 RM. in the Sky Theater. Tickets are $8 
($6 for members). 

For information about Planetarium 
events, call (212) 769-5900. 

These events take place at the American 
Museum of Natural History, located on 
Central Park West at 79th Street in New 
York City. The Kaufmann and Linder 
theaters and the Leonhardt People Center 
are located in the Charles A. Dana Educa- 
tion Wing. The Museum has a pay-'.\ iia! 
you-wish admission policy. For n". 'e ■:■- 
formation about the Museum, ca/ 


Unfazed by a March snowstorm in 
southern Minnesota, a great homed owl 
patiently warms its eggs round-the-clock 
in the hollow of an old oak. 

Great homed owls begin their annual 
courtship rituals in the dead of winter. By 
Febmary, a hawk's abandoned stick nest 
or a large tree hollow is readied, and by 
March it holds two or three whitish eggs. 

After a month of incubation, the 
hatchlings, bom with an appetite for 
meat, are introduced to camivory. The 
parents feed the owlets for about six 
weeks in the nest (this parent's constancy 
paid off; two young left the nest in May). 
They continue to supply food for a few 
weeks after the owlets leave the nest and 
begin learning to hunt. 

To accommodate the rapidly growing 
young and the food dehvered by their 
parents, the nest must be roomy. In his 
Life Histories of North American Birds of 
Prey, Arthur Cleveland Bent tells of one 
great homed owl nest that contained 
eighteen pounds of fare: "a mouse, a 
young muskrat, two eels, four bullheads, 
a Woodcock, four Ruffed Grouse, one 
rabbit, and eleven rats."— 7. R. 

Photograph by Scott W. Sharkey 

76 Natural History 2/93 

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After studying snowshoe hares in 
Maine as an undergraduate, Mark 
O'Donoghue (page 26) went to West 
Afiica, where he worked as a wildlife biol- 
ogist for five years. Drawn to the north 
again, he moved to Canada and became a 
Ph.D. candidate at the University of 
British Columbia. O'Donoghue is study- 
ing the responses of coyotes and lynx to 
changing snowshoe hare densities in the 
Yukon. Wife and coauthor Susan Stuart 
studied coyotes at the College of the At- 
lantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. While she re- 

mains interested in wildlife, her main ac- 
tivity is spinning fibers, including qiviuq 
(muskox fur), into yams and then dyeing, 
designing, and knitting them into clothing. 
A readable review of the snowshoe hare 
cycle can be found in L. B. Keith's Wild- 
life's Ten-Year Cycle (Madison: University 
of Wisconsin Press, 1963). For a further 
discussion of how different methods of 
rearing offspring develop, the authors sug- 
gest T. H. Clutton-Brock's The Evolution 
of Parental Care (Princeton: Princeton 
University Press, 1991). 

78 Natural History 2/93 


When Nina J. Root (page 34), director 
of library services for the American Mu- 
seum of Natural History, gathered infor- 
mation for a biography of the nineteenth- 
cenmry natural history illustrator Joseph 
Wolf, she combed the rare book collec- 
tions of the American Museum, the 
Smithsonian Institution, and the British 
Museum of Natural History. "In the 
course of my research," she said, "I found 
that Wolf painted a hippopotamus named 
Obaysch both as an infant and as an adult. 
I became curious about Obaysch and was 
eventually captivated by the animal's bi- 
ography." A graduate of Hunter College 

and Pratt Institute, where she took her 
master's degree in library science. Root 
has directed the American Museum's li- 
brary since 1970. For the past two years, 
she has overseen the building of the Mu- 
seum's $11 million library, which houses 
over a million volumes. For further read- 
ing on Obaysch, she recommends TJie Ark 
in the Park; the zoo in the nineteenth cen- 
tury by Wilfrid Blunt (London: Hamish 
Hamilton, 1976). 

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Why is this man wincing? Scott W. 
Sharkey (page 76), attempting to photo- 
graph a great homed owl's nest, explains: 
"I had gotten only ten feet up the nest tree 
when the female attacked with a 
vengeance and knocked me out of the tree. 
The torn shirt is from her talons." But owls 
are still one of Sharkey's favorite subjects. 
He photographed the nesting owl in the 
"Natural Moment" from the safety of a 
convenient hillside. At eye level with the 
nest, which was some twenty-five feet up 
in a huge oak, he used a Nikon camera 
with a 400mm lens. An assistant professor 
of medicine at the University of Min- 
nesota in Minneapolis, Sharkey considers 
photography a serious hobby. He has been 
interested in owls since high school when 
his family "learned that great homed owls 
do not make good pets." Sharkey consid- 
ers owls to be the most successful urban 
raptors and often photographs them in 
local parklands. 

On a trip to Jamaica in 1966, Margaret 
M. Stewart (page 42) tumed over a pile of 
coconut husks and watched, entranced, as 
dozens of EleuthewdacMus frogs jumped 
out. "I had never seen so many frogs in so 
small a space," she recalls. The Jamaican 
species is shy and difficult to observe, 
however, so Stewart tumed to the related 
coquf, which is abundant in Puerto Rico. 
Since 1979, She and her graduate students 
have worked intermittently at El Verde 
Field Station in the Caribbean National 
Forest. "Everyone in Puerto Rico knows 
the coqui," she says, "because it is every- 
where, calling from window screens and 
planters in hotel lobbies and chomsing 

Peter J. Marchand (page 50) says he 
has loved snow since his Massachusetts 
childhood and has just found different 
ways to play in it as he has grown older. He 
got serious about snow while conducting a 
winter study at the timberline of Mount 
Washington for his doctorate at the Uni- 
versity of New Hampshire. Marchand was 
associate professor of ecology for ten 
years at Johnson State College and also 
became associate director of the Center for 
Northern Studies, both in Vermont. He 
then founded and now directs Southwest- 
em Field Studies, an organization that in- 
vestigates alpine and desert ecosystems. 
His current research revolves mainly 
around plants and animals in the winter, 
but now that he is living in the desert, 
Marchand has become intrigued by the 
problems of plants and animals during hot 
summers. For more on winter ecology, 
readers may tum to Marchand's Life in the 
Cold (Hanover: University Press of New 
England, 1991) or Winter: An Ecological 
Handbook, by James C. Halfpenny (Boul- 
der: Johnson Books, 1987). 

from the marshes underneath arriving jets 
at the airport." A professor at the State 
University of New York in Albany, Stew- 
art grew up in North Carolina and studied 
frog ecology in Africa for her thesis. When 
she is not "frogging," she enjoys photog- 
raphy, baroque music, and gardening. For 
more reading, see Juan A. Rivero's Los 
Anfibios y Reptiles de Pueiio Rico, in Eng- 
lish and Spanish (Puerto Rico: Editorial 
Universitaria, Universidad de Puerto Rico, 
1978). For more information on coquies, 
see "Arboreal habitat use and parachuting 
by a subtropical forest frog," by Margaret 
Stewart, Journal of Herpetology, vol. 19, 
pp. 391^01, 1985. 

80 Natural History 2/93 





July 19 - August 5, 1993 

The Northwest Passage, an ice-packed sea route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific 
Oceans through Canada's northern waters, eluded explorers for centuries. Only in 1906 
did explorer Roald Amundsen finally conquer the Passage, a feat that fewer than 40 
ships have managed since then. 

Join the American Museum next summer on a voyage through this legendary sea 
passage aboard the very comfortable Kapitan Khlebnikov, one of the world's most 
powerful icebreakers. We will be able to break through frozen icepacks that have 
thwarted countless ships and our vessel's strength will allow us to make the voyage 
early in the season, the best time for viewing arctic wildlife. 

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Vol. 102, No. 3, March 1993 

Cover: in Brazil's Atlantic forest, two female muriquis demonstrate their friendship. 
Story on page 34. Photograph by Adriana 0. Rimoli. 

2 Letters 

6 With My Daughter Lois Beck 

Wliat's a good age to start anthropological fieldwork? How about five? 

14 This View of Life Stephen Jay Goidd 

Modified Grandeur 

22 Nature' s Infinite Book jared Diamond 

Drowning Dogs and the Dawn of Art 

30 This Land Robert H. Moklenbrock 
Black Branch Barrens. Texas 

34 Menu for a Monkey Karen b. strier 

B\ eating certain plants, some South American monkeys 
rid themselves of intestinal parasites. 

46 One Small Step for an Arthropod miUamA. shear 

A fantastic host of tiny predators apparently led the first invasion of solid Earth. 

54 Caribbean Diaspora Samuei m. wdson 

Many Jews, fleeing persecution, were among the early European settlers of the islands. 

60 Fiords Down Under Ken R. Grange and waiter M. Goldberg 

In some unusual New- Zealand inlets, black coral and other creatures of the deep thrive 
near the surface. 

84 Celestial Events 

Gail S. Cleere 
Wliat's in a Name? 

88 Science Lite 

Roger L. Welsch 
No Chance 

90 'Reviews Joseph L. Sax 

Crusaders of the Lost Park 

94 At THE American 
Museum of Natural 

96 A Matter OF Taste 

Raymond Sokolov 
Tlie TeffAlso Rises 

100 The Natural Moment photograph by Franklin j. Vwia 

Look Maw, No Teeth! 


102 Authors 


AlanP. Ternes Ediloi 

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The Egg and Gould 

I was surprised to read in the December 
1992 issue that Stephen Jay Gould could 
find no colleagues in the "not so rarefied 
and intellectual" environment of Cam- 
bridge, Massachusetts, who could solve 
the mystery of Columbus and his egg. Had 
he queried this Cambridge resident, he 
would have learned not only the story but 
also a popular method by which the lesson 
was taught. 

A number of early nineteenth century 
paintings in the Peabody and Essex Mu- 
seum collection portray Columbus and his 
nonplused dinner companions as he per- 
forms his feat. In all of them, he gestures 
toward the vertically oriented egg as if to 
say, "Now, gentlemen, you can all do it!" 

The image had a potent didactic mes- 
sage for the members of the East India So- 
ciety of Salem, Massachusetts, an associa- 
tion of sea captains who made daring 
voyages beyond the capes Horn and Good 
Hope to establish trade in the East Indies 
and Pacific. In 1805, the society commis- 

sioned the artist Michele Felice Come to 
paint a copy of a then well-known image 
by William Hogarth showing Columbus's 
lesson to adorn their meeting hall. To the 
East India Marine Society, Columbus was 
a hero who had accomplished for the first 
time what others would repeat later with 

Daniel Finamore 
Salem, Massachusetts 

Stephen Jay Gould's version is not the 
story I heard almost seven decades ago 
when I attended the West Buckland 
School in Devonshire, England. Yes, it 
was indeed a con job, but much more sub- 
tle than the trick that young Gould de- 
scribes. Columbus is supposed to have 
challenged the others to stand an egg on its 
end without crushing it. He himself had 
surreptitiously made an imperceptible lit- 
tle mound of salt on the tablecloth on 
which he could perch the egg on its end. 
When he picked it up again, he had by 
sleight of hand swept away the deposit of 

Cohimbiis perfonns the egg trick. 

Peabody and Essex Museum 

2 Natural History 3/93 

salt with his little finger, so that they 
couldn't see how he did it. Yes, a con, but 
a more clever con, one that they could not 

B. Orchard Lisle 
Foi't Worth, Texas 

I believe I encountered the legend 
sometime between ages ten and fourteen 
while living in the blue- and white-collar 
suburb of Lyndhurst, New Jersey. In my 
schoolboy version, Columbus performed 
his feat before his first voyage. At some 
sort of gathering, perhaps in the presence 
of Ferdinand and Isabella, he was asked 
how the earth could stay in place if it were 
round, as he stoutly maintained (implying, 
I guess, that if it were round, it would roll 
away). Whereupon Columbus performed 
his cracked egg trick (presumably just to 
shut up a crank so he could get on with his 
pitch for support). 

Lawrence J. Hall 
Bethesda, Maryland 

Many of your readers probably first en- 
countered the Columbus-and-egg story, 
referred to by Darwin and cited by 
Stephen Jay Gould, in their college Eng- 
lish class. In Part 4 of "The Bear," William 
Faulkner described how "men snarled 
over the gnawed bones of the old world's 
worthless evening until an accidental egg 
discovered to them a new hemisphere." 
Victor Strandberg 
Durham, North Carolina 

Stephen Jay Gould replies: 

I have never before had so much fun 
from the correspondence engendered by 
an essay. More than fifty letters have come 
my way, filled with as many versions of 
the story about Columbus and his egg. The 
great majority come from older readers 
(most of European backgrounds), thus af- 
firming my key claim that the story has 
lapsed among us indigenous young 'uns 
(unless we had access, as 1 did not, to the 
one source that keeps the tale sputtering 
into this generation — the 1949 film 
Christopher Cohimbus, starring Fredric 

March in the title role. Halliwell's Fihn 
Guide labels it "an extraordinarily te- 
diously paced historical account of basi- 
cally undramatic events" — prominently 
featuring the egg scene, no doubt. Time 
magazine, in a contemporary review, 
wrote: "Even ten-year-olds will find it 
about as thrilling as an afternoon spent 
looking at Christmas cards." So Colum- 
bian film flops are no new phenomenon, 
and Mr. March did not win immortality 
with the egg). 

I was most struck by the extraordinary 
diversity among my correspondents' ver- 
sions of the tale, and in their interpreta- 
tions of its message — a standard circum- 
stance for "canonical stories." Basically, 
my letters divide about equally into three 
different versions — (1) that Columbus 
hard-boUed his egg while the others tried 
raw eggs; (2) that Columbus cracked the 
shell (either surreptitiously or with 
panache, depending upon your interpreta- 
tion); (3) that Columbus secretly dumped 
a pile of salt on the table, then placed the 
egg in the pile and blew the unneeded 
grains away. 

Literary references abound: Tolstoy 
treated the incident as a joke in War and 
Peace. Faulkner obviously took it more 
seriously, as Mr. Strandberg's letter attests. 
Sherwood Anderson, in his 1921 story The 
Egg, agrees with my reading of trickery. 
One character exclaims: "That Christo- 
pher Columbus was a cheat.... He talked 
of making an egg stand on its end. He 
talked, he did, then he went and broke the 
end of the egg." Anderson had been 
weaned on version two. (My thanks to 
Donald Fiene of Knoxville for this 

But the most interesting and revealing 
tidbit comes from Vincent Zichello of 
New Rochelle, New York, who has grati- 
fied me no end by proving that the story is 
a canonical tale with versions predating 
Columbus, thus illustrating my main argu- 
ment of the following month's essay (Jan- 
uary 1993 on Haldane's beetle remark) — 
that more famous figures "attract" old 
legends and that such tales teach us more 

about the literary biases of preferred 
modes in storytelling than about historical 
fact. Giorgio Vasari, in his Lives of the 
Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Ar- 
chitects, written in 1546, tells a tale of the 
selection of Filippo Brunelleschi to build 
the dome of the Florence cathedral: 

[He proposed] that whosoever could make 
an egg stand upright on a flat piece of mar- 
ble should build the cupola.... Taking an 
egg, therefore, all those masters sought to 
make it stand upright, but no one could find 
the way. Whereupon FiUppo, being told to 
make it stand, took it graciously, and giving 
one end of it a blow on the flat piece of mar- 
ble, made it stand upright. The craftsmen 
protested that they could have done the 
same; but Filippo answered, laughing, that 
they could also have raised the cupola, if 
they had seen the model or the design. And 
so it was resolved that he should be com- 
missioned to carry out this work. 

Thus, Vasari placed version two in 1420, 
when this incident occurred, thirty-one 
years before Columbus's birth — although 
I suppose that Phidias tried the same caper 
when doubters told him that his great 
statue of Athena would surely collapse 
under its own weight. 

Nabokov and Merlin's Butterflies 

Maria Sybilla Merian's art had Russian 
connections far beyond those mentioned 
by Sharon Vahant in her fascinating essay, 
"Questioning the Caterpillar" (December 
1992). The Russian-American author 
Vladimir Nabokov owed at least some part 
of his lifelong interest in butterflies to 
Merian's work. 

An eight-year-old Nabokov discovered 
her Metamorphosis Insectorum Surina- 
mensium in the attic of his family's sum- 
mer house near Saint Petersburg. As 
Nabokov later wrote, he "dreamed" his 
way through these exotic volumes. Lov- 
ingly described butterflies are a motif in 
much of Nabokov fiction and are the sub- 
ject of an entire chapter in his Speak, 
Memory, where he tells of his childhood 
encounter with Merian's books. 

D. Barton Johnson 
Santa Barbara, California 

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With My Daughter 

In mountainous Iran, an anthropologist's five-year-old child 
adapts quickly to pastoral life 

by Lois Beck 

In May 1991, my five-year-old daugh- 
ter, Julia, and I traveled to southwestern 
Iran, where I was resuming anthropologi- 
cal research among Qashqa'i nomadic 
pastoralists. The nomads and their sheep 
and goats were at their summer pastures 
high in the Zagros Mountains, at an eleva- 
tion of approximately 9,000 feet. 1 had 
lived with this same group of people for 
more than a year in 1970 and 197 1 and for 
shorter periods in 1977 and 1979. Since 
1978, Iran had experienced a revolution, 
an Islamic government had taken power, 
and a devastating eight-year war with Iraq 
had been waged. 

The Qashqa'i are members of a tribal 
confederacy of approximately 400,000 
people. Their low-elevation winter pas- 
tures and high-elevation summer pastures 

are separated by hundreds of miles, and 
each spring and autumn migration be- 
tween the two areas lasts from two to three 
months. One of Iran's many ethnic minori- 
ties, the Qashqa'i speak Turkish and are 
Shi'i Mushms. In the 1960s and 1970s, the 
regime of Mohammad Reza Shah had 
pressured many Qashqa'i to abandon no- 
madism and- settle in villages and towns. 
More recently, the current government has 
attempted to reverse this policy, and a 
high-level state agency is endeavoring to 
provide the nomads with such benefits as 
veterinary services, modem medicine, for- 
mal education, new roads, and improved 
access to water. 

Julia and I arrived at the summer pas- 
tures in late afternoon after a long drive 
from the provincial capital of Shiraz. A 

During a visit to a neighboring tent, Julia liolds tlie 
cliild of a QasJiqa 'i family. 

Photographs by Lois Beck 

6 Natural History 3/93 

new, paved road to the town of Semirom 
had turned the formerly arduous, dusty, 
bumpy drive into a pleasant one. North of 
Semirom, we made our way along a nar- 
row dirt track farther into the mountains. 

Up against a mountainside, just where it 
used to be, was the black goat-hair tent of 
Borzu Qermezi. The former hibal head- 
man was leaning on a cane and peering out 
at the approaching vehicle. I was over- 
joyed to see him, for I had heard third- 
hand reports that he had been seriously ill. 
His wife, Falak, came down to greet us 
with embraces and kisses and escorted us 
back to the tent. Borzu held my hand and 
kissed my face, then leaned down and 
kissed Juha many times. 

Two trucks hired to transport sheep and 
goats to market pulled up to the camp in a 
flurry of dust. Their arrival gave Julia a 
chance to become accustomed to the sur- 
roundings and enabled me to point out cer- 
tain individuals to her while everyone has- 
tened to load the animals. Borzu called to 
his son Mohammad Karim to collect a 
lamb from the herd. Realizing his intent, I 
kept Julia from seeing him sht its throat. 
Even though the lamb's sacrifice was 
meant to honor our arrival (and to provide 
meat for a welcoming meal), it was not the 
first image I wanted her to have. Juha and 
I spent the rest of the day greeting and 
talking with people who came from near- 
by camps to see us. The weather became 
cold as the sun set, and Julia sat close by 
me in the large tent. 

After the celebratory dinner, Moham- 
mad Karim wanted to pitch the canvas tent 
I had brought his family from the United 
States as a gift in 1977. 1 told him we had 
a new one and began to unpack a bag that 
the nomads thought impossibly small and 
too hghtweight to hold a complete tent, 

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poles and all. They needed several camels 
to carry each of their tents. Because the 
surrounding land was still muddy from the 
melting snow, Borzu insisted we pitch our 
tent inside his, where we would be warm 
and less buffeted by the wind. His daugh- 
ter Fariba spread a ground cloth in a part of 
the tent usually reserved for guests and 
placed a finely woven carpet on top. There 
we set up our compact, brilliant turquoise 
nylon tent. 

Julia was tired, so I was glad to unpack 
our sleeping bags and get her settled down 
to sleep. The night was so cold that water 
in the nomads' goatskin bags had partly 
frozen by morning, but Julia and I were 
toasty in our tent. She slept through the 
night and upon awakening in the morning 
was disappointed to learn that she had 
missed the tumult of the camp dogs chas- 
ing away wolves that had tried to attack 
the sheep. 

After a tasty breakfast of freshly baked 
flatbread, new butter, and yogurt, Julia 
began to explore the camp. Mohammad 
Karim's children gave her a newborn kid, 
all black except for one white leg. When 
the frisky animal escaped, Julia tried to re- 
cover it but could not. When the children 
raced after it, she watched their technique, 
and by the end of the day she, too, could 
capture White Foot by anticipating the di- 
rection in which the kid would leap and 
then lunging after a rear leg. 

Julia soon became a real help in camp, 
in ways that I had never been. I was not 
competent in the tasks that women of my 
age performed, but Julia was soon accom- 

plishing practically all the tasks that chil- 
dren performed. 

Two injured and ill sheep were tethered 
near a stone wall off to one side of the tent. 
On her own Julia took responsibility for 
their care. She went with Borzu's son Dar- 
iush to cut long grass growing by a moun- 
tain stream and fed it to the animals, and 
she often untangled the ropes from their 
legs. She would pat their heads and mur- 
mur encouraging words to them as she 
looked into their eyes. 

Julia also worried about a baby goat 
with apparent neurological problems. 
Borzu's brother Jehangir kept the kid in an 
open wooden box, for it could not stand. 
When Julia carried the animal to its 
mother, it lay on the ground bleating with 
desperation, its legs splayed helplessly be- 
neath it. Julia figured out how to hold both 
the kid and a teat so that the young animal 
could nurse. Jehangir showed her where to 
feel the kid's belly to know when it was 
adequately fed. 

Julia learned to mimic exactly the 
"baaing" of the lambs and the kids, and 
even the nomads sometimes did not know 
if it was Julia teasing us from the rocky 
mountain slope behind the tent (where we 
could not see her) or an actual lamb or kid. 

Julia quickly formed a special relation- 
ship with each person in Borzu's house- 
hold. Because Borzu was still ill and could 
not easily stand or walk, Julia learned to 
anticipate his requests. She scattered 
chickens from the tent, and we gradually 
became used to abrupt, panicked squawk- 
ings as she disrupted yet another group of 

In a trick learned from other children, Julia sneaks a 
tasty curd ball from a drying mat. 

roosting chickens. One day Borzu spotted 
a large lizard, considered by the nomads to 
be polluting to the home, on the reed 
screen in front of the tent. Julia came to 
Borzu's assistance, grabbing his cane and 
chasing the lizard away. 

At night Borzu did not sleep well and 
would often cry out, "Pain, pain!" JuUa, 
awakened by his cries, would call, "It's all 
right, Borzu. Go back to sleep." Some- 
times, when the pain was severe, he would 
lament in his sleep, "Mother, mother, 
where are you?" (His mother had died 
twenty years earlier.) As we traveled 
through the summer pastures visiting 
other families, Julia would always ask me 
to tell Borzu's many brothers and sisters 
about his pain and his calling for their 
mother. Julia worried about him and 
would often sit close by him to play with 
her toy sheep and goats and patiently show 
him how to solve the puzzles she had 
brought from home. 

Several nights after our arrival, Julia 
asked me to identify the adolescent boy 
who sat shghtly out of the circle of people 
around the open fire. I replied that he was 
Ayad, Borzu's hired shepherd. She imme- 
diately inquired, "But where is Falak's 
shepherd?" I laughed and then translated 
for everyone, to their amusement. Falak, 
Borzu's wife, joked, "You know, I really 
do deserve my own shepherd. I perform all 
the work around here" (which was in fact 
partly true, especially since Borzu had 
been ill). 

Borzu's sons who were still at home, 
Dariush and Bizhan, both in their early 
twenties, became Julia's companions. 
They often took her with them when they 
did their various chores, including the day 
they permanently separated the lambs 
from the ewes. She always helped bring in 
the lambs at night and settled them in their 
pen, and she worried when they bleated 
anxiously for their mothers. 

Julia sensed the tension between Borzu 
and Dariush. The two occasionally argued 
because Dariush wanted a salaried job in 
the city, while Borzu needed him to carry 
on pastoral tasks and to maintain the fam- 
ily's nomadic life style. 

Dariush and Bizhan taught Julia most of 
the Turkish words and phrases she 
learned. On her own, she picked up the ex- 
clamations and mild curses that people ut- 
tered, and she would insert them in her 
conversation, which the others found en- 
tertaining. "You offspring of an under- 
sized donkey!" she would suddenly shout 
at a billy goat trying to eat wild herbs dry- 
ing on a tray in the sun. 

8 Natural History 3/93 

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Fariba, Borzu's only daughter still at 
home (four older daughters were married 
and in their own tents in other camps), 
taught Julia how to chum yogurt and water 
to make butter, spin yam from raw wool, 
fill goatskin water bags, gather wild herbs, 
and retrieve the donkeys. Shy about enter- 
ing a tent filled with male visitors, Fariba 
would peek around the side, catch Julia's 
eye, and beckon to her. Julia would scam- 
per out and be gone. She would come back 
later telling about her adventure and 
spouting new words and phrases. Fariba 
showed Julia how to roll out wet curds to 
dry in the sun. Juha had seen young chil- 
dren quietiy sneak a ball of drying curd to 
eat, and one day I saw her doing the same 
thing, exactly the way that they did it, 
reaching up from underneath to the mat 
raised on poles. 

We visited practically every family in 
these pastures. They were all people I had 
known before, and I was happy to see 
them again and renew ties. Many had lost 
sons in the Iraq-Iran war (1980-1988), 
and we wept together. I could not help re- 
membering that many of these young men 
had been Julia's age when I first knew 
them, and I had watched them grow up. 

I had expected that Julia might be shy 
when we went from tent to tent, meeting 
new people, but she was not. I would ex- 
plain in advance how each person was re- 
lated to Borzu by kinship and marriage. 
She became familiar with the arrangement 
of the tents and camps and learned about 
customary and proper behavior. 

Julia became friends with Shapur, the 
teen-age son of Borzu's married daughter 
Zohreh. Whenever we visited their camp, 
Shapur took Julia with him as he did his 
chores. She collected feathers of all sorts 
and enlisted Shapur in this pursuit; he 
obliged by holding a live rooster still while 
she plucked out a particularly attractive 
feather. One day Shapur took Julia to show 
her a young wild bird he had found aban- 
doned in a nest high on a mountain cliff. 
She returned with the bird, an unwieldy 
young falcon with a wingspan greater than 
the reach of her arms. Shapur nursed the 
falcon until it learned to fly and to hunt on 
its own. 

On the afternoon we visited Jehangir's 
family, Julia showed him the fossil of a 
snail she had found. "Come with me," Je- 
hangir promptly responded, "I know a 
place where there are many." And off they 

"Dr. Hooper is excited about his new project.' 

went, hand in hand, to a nearby hilltop to 
collect what he called "stone money" — 
flat, round fossils of mollusks and bra- 
chiopods the size of large coins. 

When we first arrived in May, the son of 
Khalifeh, another former tribal headman, 
took me aside to whisper that Khalifeh had 
died many years before. When Julia and I 
visited his camp several weeks later, I 
went to pay my respects to Khalifeh. I 
climbed to the graveyard on a hilltop, 
tapped on Khalifeh 's inscribed gravestone 
with a nice round stone I had found on the 
way, and told him how sorry I was not to 
have seen him again. Then I saw Julia 
climbing up the hill. She too had found a 
stone on the way and came over to the 
grave beside me. Without my saying a 
word, she tapped on the gravestone and 
solemnly spoke, "Khahfeh, I wish I could 
have known you." I had not remembered 
teUing Julia about the ritual. Perhaps she 
saw someone else perform it. 

Nights were always special for Julia. 
Before going to sleep, we would take a 
short walk to admire the changing shape 
of the moon, the bright planets, and the 
multitude of stars. The high altitude and 
the absence of artificial lighting allowed us 
to see a bright sky (despite the smoky haze 
drifting across the Persian Gulf to Iran 
from Kuwait's oil fields, set afire by Sad- 
dam Hussein's army several months previ- 
ously). Juha was often the first to settle 
down to sleep, and she would hsten as the 
family completed the work of the day. 
Bizhan, last to get under the blankets, 
would often play an audio cassette of 
poignant Qashqa'i music. The tent finally 
silent, the camp's dogs would begin to 
work themselves into a frenzy of barking 
as they defended the camp and attacked 
any stalking wolves, foxes, and hyenas. 
Julia laughed at the dogs' sudden transfor- 
mation, for during the day they lay in a 
stupor in the shade along a stone wall and 
would barely raise an eyelid as she passed 
by. Julia did not hear the sounds just be- 
fore dawn — the crackle of the fire Falak 
was starting, Fariba rolling out bread 
dough and slapping the thin sheets on a 
flat pan over another fire, Bizhan taking 
out the lambs eager to graze, and Borzu 
clearing his head of the night's distresses. 

One night Juha woke me up to whisper 
that an animal was in our tent. She said she 
thought it was nibbling the ball of dried 
curds she had hidden. Telling her it was a 
dream, I patted her and told her to go back 
to sleep. About an hour later, I felt some- 
thing crawl up my back and into my hair. I 
hastily brushed it off and then unsuccess- 

1 Natural History 3/93 

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fully tried by flashlight to find out what 
sort of creature it was. 

The next morning, as people sat in a cir- 
cle in the tent discussing their response to 
the imposition of an Islamic government, 
Julia shouted, "Mommy, crab, crab!" She 
knew she should not interrupt me, except 
in an emergency. There, close to all of us, 
was a large, black scorpion, its barbed tail 
poised, moving across the carpet (in crab 
fashion, as seen by a child). Fariba 
grabbed a metal pincer and dropped the 
scorpion into the fire. Everyone marveled 
that none of us had seen it and that Julia 
had rescued us from a possibly lethal, cer- 
tainly painful sting. Perhaps it was the an- 
imal that had crawled up my back and into 
my hair. 

Julia delighted in animal stories. One 
night Jehangir told of having seen that day 
a large snake devouring a smaller snake. 
JuUa, who had begun to fall asleep in my 

arms, roused herself to ask me to translate 
his story and then questioned, "Head first or 
tail first?" We all laughed, for each of us had 
formed a vague mental image of the snake's 
feast but had not bothered to inquire about 
the details. "Head first or tail first?" became 
a popular joke for the rest of our stay. 

Shortly before our departure, Mohammad 
Karim and several kinsmen set off to shoot a 
wild boar for us. I protested, but to no avail; 
wild game was important in the Qashqa'i 
diet, and serving it was a way of honoring us. 
The hunters returned tired and irritated the 
next day. "We rode to a place where boars 
dig for truffles," Mohammad Karim re- 
ported, "but we saw no sign of them. Then 
we hiked to the spring where tracks had been 
spotted earlier. Thirty to forty boars had 
drunk there but were gone." 

"But with boars prancing about at the 
spring," Julia responded, "and with so many 
hoof marks, how could you possibly know 

"It obviously was in the path of a migrating tribe from the north." 

12 Natural History 3/93 


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the number?" and she demonstrated with 
her hands and fingers the prancing of 
hoofs. We all laughed. Mohammad Karim 
apologized for not being able to present 
her with a pair of tusks but promised to 
have some for our next visit. 

Just before we left, we visited the near- 
est tribal school. At first Julia was puzzled, 
and then I realized she had expected some- 
thing similar to her own school at home. 
But there, on a barren slope, was a small, 
round, open-sided canvas tent, two black- 
boards, a rust}' can of chalk pieces, a bat- 
tered folding chair for the teacher (Borzu's 
nephew), and a tattered and faded Iranian 
flag flapping from a pole. The children 
carried their own few books back and 
forth every day. JuUa asked. ""But where 
are the "learning areas"?" (as found at her 
preschool). Then she gazed at the moun- 
tains around us and laughed at the irrele- 
vance of her question. 

On our way back to Borzu"s tent, we 
skirted a small footbridge that had just 
been built over a mountain stream. Fresh. 
moist cement covered the top. Suddenly 
Julia was walking across it. I asked her 
what she thought she was doing. She 
replied, "I want to leave footprints so that 
people will remember that I was here." 
Later that day I told people what she had 
done, so they would look for her small 
footprints in the hardened cement. 

Bizhan offered to drive us to the town of 
Semirom so we could catch a ride back to 
the provincial capital of Shiraz. I packed 
hurriedly, while Julia sat stunned by the 
sudden departure. E\'eryone was in tears 
when we kissed goodbye. At the outskirts 
of Semirom, Bizhan began to drive ex- 
ceedingly slowly. I could not understand it 
and watched him out of the comer of my 
eye. Julia sobbed. ""Bizhan wants us to 
miss our ride, so that we won't have to 
leave." She was right. 

After we had left Semirom and were 
travehng along the road to Shiraz. we saw- 
many tents of other groups of Qashqa'i 
nomads. "See that herd? They haven't sold 
their year-old lambs yet." Julia exclaimed. 
"Look! I bet Borzu wishes he still owned 
camels like those. It's so dry here. I won- 
der how far the women have to go for 
water. The people over there have only 
canvas tents, no goat-hair ones; they must 
be gypsies." Julia was right on these 
counts, too. 

Lois Beck teaches anthropology at Wash- 
ington University in Saint Louis. Her lat- 
est book is Nomad: A Year in the Life of a 
Qashqa'i Tribesman in Iran. 




MHY 9-25, 1995 


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Tffls Vmw OF Life I 

Modified Grandeur 

A crumbling pedestal supports our arrogant views of life 
by Stephen Jay Gould 

This is an essay about adjectives. 

In an old theatrical story, W. S. Gilbert 
was leading a rehearsal for the premiere of 
his most famous collaboration with A. S. 
Sullivan, The Mikado. At one point, 
Nanki-Poo learns that his beloved Yum- 
Yum is about to marry her guardian, Ko- 
Ko. Searching for a straw of light, he asks: 
"But you do not love him?" "Alas, no!" 
she replies. On hearing this sliver of miti- 
gation, Nanki-Poo exclaims "Rapture!" — 
or so Gilbert originally wrote. But at the 
rehearsal, Nanki-Poo stated his line too 
forcefully, given the limited comfort pro- 
vided by Yum- Yum, and Gilbert shouted 
down from the balcony: "Modified rap- 
ture." The poor tenor, not grasping that 
Gilbert had only meant to correct his tone, 
and thinking instead that he had flubbed 
his fine, exclaimed, "Modified rapture" at 
the reprise. This unintended correction 
eUcited a good laugh, and so the line has 
remained ever since. If something so un- 
varnished as rapture must often be modi- 
fied, let me pose a question in a similar 
vein: how shall we modify grandeur? 

I asked myself this question in ponder- 
ing the array of deep issues embedded 
within the most famous paragraph of our 
biological literature — the closing lines of 
Darwin's Origin of Species. Rarely have 
so few words raised so many hackles and 
fomented so much discussion. I quote 
from the definitive sixth and last edition of 

There is grandeur in this view of life, with 
its several powers, having been originally 
breathed by the Creator into a few forms or 
into one; and that, whilst this planet has 
gone cycling on according to the fixed law 
of gravity, from so simple a beginning end- 
less forms most beautiful and most wonder- 
ful have been, and are being evolved. 

Two features of this paragraph have 
14 Natural History 3/93 

been batted back and forth about the liter- 
ature of the history of science (including a 
good deal of circulation through these 
columns). First, why did Darwin use theis- 
tic language here and only here, when he 
was at least agnostic in personal persua- 
sion, and certainly believed (in any case) 
that worldly phenomena must receive nat- 
uralistic explanations? (The first edition 
uses the word "Creator" seven times, al- 
ways in negative comparison to illustrate 
the superiority of evolutionary explana- 
tions.) We will never know the answer for 
sure, but one fact speaks volumes: the 
phrase "by the Creator" was interpolated 
by Darwin into later editions; the original 
passage, as published in 1859, read: 
"...having been originally breathed into a 
few forms or into one. . ." I rather suspect 
that simple diplomacy can best explain 
this dubious addition. 

Second, why does "evolved," the very 
last word of the book, appear nowhere else 
in the Origin of Species (Darwin calls the 
process — later to be named "evolution" — 
"descent with modification")? I believe 
that Darwin shunned this word because he 
recognized that natural selection, his the- 
ory of evolutionary mechanisms, con- 
tained no postulate about progress as a 
necessary feature of organic history — and, 
in vernacular English at the time, the word 
"evolution" meant progress (literally, un- 
folding according to a preset plan). 

But I want to focus on a third feature of 
this closing statement — its opening words. 
Why does an evolutionary outlook ("this 
view of life") imply "grandeur," and of 
what does this grandeur consist? Why 
does Darwin use the word here at all, and 
for the only time in the entke book? I 
started to ruminate about this issue be- 
cause, by chance, I recently came upon an- 
other reference to "grandeur" from the 

generation before Darwin, and in a great 
work of exactly opposite import. This led 
me to consider the chronology of 
grandeur — in particular" its apparent re- 
duction, as illustrated by nouns and adjec- 
tives, through three stages: the creationist 
world just before the Origin of Species, 
Darwin's evolutionary reformulation, and 
our modem view of life's history. We feel 
that we have gained greatly in factual and 
theoretical understanding through these 
three stages; but if we have lost a degree of 
grandeur for each step of knowledge 
gained, then we must fear Faust's bargain: 
"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall 
gain the whole world, and lose his own 
soul?" (Mark 8:36.) 

Stage One: Pre-Darwinian Grandeur. I 
was recendy invited by the American So- 
ciety for Surgery of the Hand to present 
the inaugural lecture at their annual meet- 
ing in Phoenix. I was given a free rein on 
topics, and could have chosen anything 
from evolutionary manifestoes to creation- 
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Evincing Design. 

When the Right Honorable and Rev- 
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the power, wisdom, and goodness of God, 
as manifested in tiie Creation." The entice- 
ments were virtually irresistible, for the 
nominating committee included the Presi- 
dent of the Royal Society (Britain's lead- 
ing scientific organization) and the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, while the good earl 
had specified "moreover, that the profits 
arising from the sale of the works so pub- 
Hshed should be paid to the authors of the 

The resulting eight volumes, collec- 
tively called the Bridgewater Treatises (at 
least by their friends, for doubters usually 
referred to them as the "Bilgewater Trea- 
tises"), therefore featured a collection of 
famous authors, including William 
Whewell, Britain's leading philosopher of 
science; William Buckland, Oxford Uni- 
versity's first professor of geology; and 
Peter Mark Roget, of thesaurus fame. The 
distinguished nominators selected Sir 
Charles Bell for one of the few topics that 
the earl of Bridgewater had specifically 
designated for treatment in his will — "the 
construction of the hand of man." 

The Bridgewater Treatises represent the 
last major statement of natural theology, a 
distinctively English tradition in both reli- 
gion and natural history, with roots in John 
Ray's late seventeenth-century writings, a 
trunk in William Paley's Natural Theology 
of 1802, and a last set of branches in the 
earl's posthumous literary legacies. A 
great lumberjack named Charles Darwin 
visited this particular glade a few years 

As one would expect from title and con- 
text. Bell's volume focuses on the human 
hand as an ultimate expression of divine 
wisdom in creative design: 

It is in the human hand that we have the 
consummation of all perfection as an instru- 
ment. This, we perceive, consists in its 
power, which is a combination of strength 
with variety and extent of motion; we see it 
in the forms, relations, and sensibility of the 
fingers and thumb; in the provisions for 
holding, pulling, spinning, weaving, and 
constructing; properties which may be 
found in other animals, but which are com- 
bined to form this more perfect instrument. 

But Bell also extended his argument 
further to consider the entire pattern of 
life's history through geological time — 
and he promptly ran into a difficulty that 
confronted all natural theologians. The 
fossil record seemed to indicate an im- 
provement in complexity of design 
through time — invertebrates only in the 
oldest rocks, followed by fishes, reptiles, 
mammals, and a creation of man so recent 
(for no human fossils were then known) 
that his remains are unrecorded in our ge- 
ological strata. Superficially, this pattern 
looks good for God — a series of creations 
and extinctions, with mounting excellence 
in each new try as the eventual entry of 
man draws nigh (I am purposely using the 
justly abandoned, gender-biased language 
invoked from time nearly immemorial 
through Bell to just a few years back). But 
a natural theologian, committed to the 
proposition that God creates in perfection, 
must balk — for God can always make just 
right; so why should he have created 
something less than perfect at first? Surely 
he doesn't need to practice, and could have 
fashioned absolute organic optimality a 
millimicrosecond after creating the uni- 
verse itself 

Bell resolved this paradox (following 
his colleague Buckland's lead in the geo- 

" Paper, no wait. . .plastic, no. . .please don 't hit me! " 

logical treatise of the Bridgewater series) 
by arguing that each successive creation is 
both perfect for its own time and more ex- 
cellent in design than the previous and ex- 
tirpated version. Perfect can only mean 
ideally adapted to local environments. 
Suppose then that the environment be- 
came tougher and more diverse through 
time — a general result of the earth's cool- 
ing in Buckland's scheme. The languid, 
low-lying topographies of the early earth 
were made for simple creatures, and un- 
suited to exalted human capacities. Bell 

These animals inhabited shallow seas, and 
estuaries, or great inland lakes. . .the surface 
of the earth did not rise up in peaks and 
mountains.. . . It was flat, slimy, and covered 
with a loaded and foggy atmosphere. There 
is, indeed, every reason to believe that the 
classes mammalia and birds were not then 
created; and that if man had been placed in 
this condition of the earth, there must have 
been around him a state of things unsuited 
to his constitution, and not calculated to call 
forth his capacities. 

The simple creatures of these times were 
perfect for their primitive surroundings: 
"No fault is to be found with the construc- 
tion of these instruments; they are suited to 
their offices, and no bone is superfluous, or 
misplaced, or imperfect." The history of 
life is, therefore, simultaneously a tale of 
perpetual perfection and continuous in- 
crease in complexity of design. 

Bell, in summarizing this noble vision, 
waxed poetic and spoke about grandeur — 
in fact, grandeur beyond grandeur, as illus- 
fi-ated by a well-chosen adjective. When I 
discovered this passage, and compared its 
adjectival embellishment with Darwin's 
unomamented grandeur, the disturbing 
germ of this essay (later resolved, at least 
personally) took root in my own glade. 
Bell wrote: 

There is extreme grandeur in the thought of 
an anticipating or prospective inteUigence; 
in reflecting that what was finally accom- 
plished in man, was begun in times incalcu- 
lably remote, and antecedent to the great 
revolutions which the earth's surface has 
undergone.. . . If we seek to discover the re- 
lations of things, how sublime is the relation 
established between that state of the earth's 
surface, which has resulted from a long suc- 
cession of revolutions, and the final condi- 
tion of its inhabitants as created in accor- 
dance with these changes? 

Let us review the components of this 
scheme that would lead a man like Bell to 
call its grandeur extreme — or at least won- 
drously suited to human arrogance: ani- 
mals are always perfectly designed for 

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their immediate world; yet life's history 
also displays a linear trend to increasing 
excellence cukninating in the recent ar- 
rival of man. In fact, man is foreshadowed 
from the very beginning, and his eventual 
origin is the pith and purpose of the entire 
panoply. What could be more grand, more 
extremely grand, than such a purposeful 
drama that puts Homo sapiens both in per- 
petual center stage and atop the ultimate 
peak at the end of the last act? 

Stage Two: Darwin the lumberjack lops 
off an adjective. I cited Darwin's statement 
about unvarnished grandeur earlier in this 
essay. Of what does this grandeur consist 
in our scientific culture's first fully defen- 
sible theory of evolution? Darwin gives us 
the answer in a brilliant comparison later 
in his final paragraph. He contrasts plane- 
tary motion in the Newtonian cosmology 
with directionahty in the history of life. 
Planetary history, at base, is endless repe- 
tition to nowhere — essential, no doubt, to 
our planet's continued existence, but not 
very interesting in lacking any directional 
component: "whilst this planet has gone 
cycling on according to the fixed law of 
gravity..." Darwin writes. But life's his- 
tory, by explicit contrast, is an endlessly 
ramifying tree, growing upward toward 
the light — and such motion constitutes 
grandeur: "from so simple a beginning 
endless forms most beautiful and most 

wonderful have been, and are being 
evolved." The "grandeur in this view of 
life" lies squarely in the contrast of cyclic- 
ity on a physical home with directionality 
of the biological inhabitants. 

But Darwin has taken us down a peg, at 
least in terms of our standard cultural 
hopes and deep-seated arrogances. Bell's 
progressive creationism gave us a foreor- 
dained history of life, always perfect but 
moving upward toward an inevitable 
apotheosis in the origin of Homo sapiens. 
Darwin still sees expansion from original 
simplicity (the ever-ramifying tree of life 
in his metaphor), but specific outcomes are 
no longer ordained, and increase in com- 
plexity is only a broad trend, not a grand 
highway toward life's primary goal. Does 
this change — a demotion in psychological 
comfort at least — explain why Bell could 
call his grandeur "extreme," while Darwin 
applied no adjective at all? 

Stage Three: Wonderful perhaps, but is 
it grand? Darwin remained deeply am- 
bivalent on the crucial issue of progress in 
life's history. He understood that the 
"bare-bones mechanics" of natural selec- 
tion included no such principle, and he 
was enough of a philosophical radical to 
revel in the extensive impUcations of such 
a discomforting view. (Natural selection 
only produces adaptation to changing 
local environments, not global progress. A 

"Hello, Dk Sedgwick? It's about Norton. He seems to be building himself a nest 
somewhere again." 

woolly mammoth is well-adapted to 
glacial climates, but cannot be called a 
generally improved elephant.) 

But Darwin was also a truly eminent 
Victorian — a wealthy, white male com- 
mitted to (and greatly benefiting from) a 
society that had, perhaps more than any 
other in human history, made progress the 
centerpiece of its credo. How could Dar- 
win jettison progress altogether in this age 
of industrial might, military triumph, and 
colonial expansion? Darwin therefore 
placed a modified form of progress back 
into his view of hfe through a supplemen- 
tary argument about ecology and competi- 
tion. The "struggle for existence," Darwin 
argued, proceeds in two basic modes: 
against the physical environment, or with 
other members of a population in a battle 
for scarce resources. Darwin writes: "Two 
canine animals in a time of dearth, may be 
truly said to struggle with each other 
which shall get food and live. But a plant 
on the edge of a desert is said to struggle 
for hfe against the drought." 

Struggle against the physical environ- 
ment yields no vector of progress, for life 
merely tracks a fluctuating and nondirec- 
tional history of chmate and topography. 
But true battle against one's peers (the 
"gladiatorial view" in Huxley's terms) 
might validate a trend toward improve- 
ment, since such global features as more 
stamina, increased intelligence, and 
greater complexity of weaponry might 
now be favored. Therefore, if this organic 
mode of competition tends to be more fre- 
quent than the inorganic style, life might 
show an overall tendency toward progress. 

Darwin then argued that organic com- 
petition does predominate because most 
habitats are chock-full of species, and new 
forms can insert themselves only by push- 
ing a competitor out in overt struggle. A 
weakly directional progress therefore 
characterizes life's history. Darwin writes: 

The inhabitants of each successive period in 
the world's history have beaten their prede- 
cessors in the race for life, and are, in so far, 
higher in the scale of nature; and this may 
account for that vague yet ill-defined senti- 
ment, felt by many paleontologists, that or- 
ganization on the whole has progressed. 

Is it any wonder, then, that Darwin's 
grandeur is an adjective less intense than 
Bell's? Darwin still gives us a form of 
progress — his tree of life does grow up- 
ward — but what a paltry thing (in conven- 
tional terms) compared with BeU's version 
of a straight and narrow road to human 

And where are we today, when many 

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paleontologists espouse a view of life with 
even less emphasis on progress (if not an 
outright denial of the concept in any con- 
ventional sense), and increasing sensitiv- 
ity to the many elements of randomness 
and contingency that make any particular 
pathway — including the route to Homo 
sapiens — utterly unpredictable and un- 
likely ever to arise again if the tape of life 
could be replayed from scratch? Bell ex- 
alted humans as the top rung of an in- 
evitable ladder. Darwin perceived us as a 
branch on a tree, but still as a topmost 
shoot representing a predictable direction 
of growth. Many paleontologists, myself 
included, now view Homo sapiens as a 
tiny and unpredictable twig on a richly 
ramifying tree of life — a happy accident of 
the last geological moment, unlikely ever 
to appear again if we could regrow the tree 
from seed. 

If Darwin could only muster an unmod- 
ified grandeur for his weak version of 
progress, what can we offer today? The 
next step down from no adjective is loss of 
the noun as well — that is, no grandeur at 
all. Indeed, I recently wrote a book on this 
revised concept of life's history. I found 
the new view intellectually thrilling and 
utterly fascinating as a challenge to our so- 
cial traditions and psychological hopes. I 
called the book Wonderful Life, but I don't 
think that I ever spoke of the fossil record 
in terms of grandeur. 

How shall we react to this loss of tradi- 
tional comfort and exaltation in consider- 
ing the paths of life's history — this demo- 
tion of grandeur in three stages from 
extreme to unvarnished to absent? Must an 
increase in knowledge and understanding 
always carry the price of psychological 

We might just react stoically and recall 
J. S. Mill's dictum that it is better to be 
Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied. 
Or we might look favorably upon the good 
lesson that comes with a cold bath, and re- 
member Sigmund Freud's famous obser- 
vation that each revolution in the history 
of science greatly augments our power and 
understanding, but also dislodges us from 
a pedestal of previous cosmic arrogance. 
We first located ourselves at the center of a 
limited universe, but Copernicus and 
Galileo taught us that we inhabit a periph- 
eral speck in a cosmos "of a magnitude 
scarcely conceivable." We then imagined 
that God had created us in his own image 
on this little speck, until Darwin "rele- 
gated us to descent from an animal world." 
(In one of the least modest statements of 
intellectual history, Freud then says that at 

20 Natural. History 3/93 

least we believed we had rational minds 
until he discovered the unconscious.) 

I want to propose another approach, for 
I yearn to reestablish an appropriate notion 
of grandeur. Previous concepts have doled 
out grandeur to life according to its degree 
of conformity with our hopes and arro- 
gances — most to Bell for placing us on a 
foreordained and inevitable top; less to 
Darwin for retaining a progressive direc- 
tionality to contrast with planetary cy- 
cling; none to a modem view that demotes 
us to twigdom on a tree of life more 
strange and fascinating than ever. 

As its primary definition of grandeur, 
the Oxford English Dictionary offers: 
"transcendent greatness or nobility of in- 
trinsic character." Does not this definition 
permit, nay compel, us to imbue life's his- 
tory with a notion of grandeur even firmer 
than Bell's? We have erred in the past by 
assessing grandeur largely in terms of how 
nature depicts our origin and our status. 
But this ruling dictionary tells us that 
grandeur rests upon "intrinsic charac- 
ter" — and nature can therefore only be 
grand in its own terms. For me then — and 
I will admit 'that grandeur must remain a 
largely personal and aesthetic concept — 
the modem view is grandest of all, for we 
have finally freed nature from primary 
judgment for placement of one Uttle twig 
upon its copious bush. We can now step 
off and back — and see nature as some- 
thing so vast, so strange (yet comprehensi- 
ble), and so majestic in pursuing its own 

ways without human interference, that 
grandeur becomes the best word of all for 
expressing our interest, and our respect. 

But we surely need an adjective, for this 
grandeur is greater even than Bell's. I have 
played with many alternatives and remain 
open to suggestion. I considered "ineffa- 
ble" or "unspeakable," but then I couldn't 
write any more essays. As a fan of words 
with both vemacular and rarefied mean- 
ings, I toyed with "terrific," but finally de- 
murred in recalling the older and literal de- 
finition of "terrifying" — for nature may be 
strange, but is neither scary nor evil. 

My current favorite is "awesome 
grandeur" — a nice mixture of the vemacu- 
lar kiddie-culture sense of "terrific" or "re- 
ally cool, man," with the older and more 
sublime version captured by the Oxford 
English Dictionary in tracing an appropri- 
ate historical path from theological dread 
to reverent fascination; "From its use in 
reference to the Divine Being this passes 
gradually into; Dread mingled with vener- 
ation, reverential or respectful fear; rever- 
ence in the presence of supreme authority, 
moral greatness or sublimity." And finally 
to the next and best sense; "The feeling of 
solemn and reverential wonder, tinged 
with latent fear, inspired by what is terri- 
bly sublime and majestic in nature." In 
other words, properly modified grandeur 

Stephen Jay Gould teaches biology, geol- 
ogy, and the history of science at Harvard 

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Nature's iNFrNTrE Book 

Drowning Dogs and 
the Dawn of Art 

As we achieve new understanding of Cro-Magnon cave paintings, we may 
in turn gain new insights into our future 

by Jared Diamond 

On two walls in southwestern Europe, a 
few hundred miles apart, stand two fa- 
mous, gripping, and disturbing paintings 
of animals on the verge of death. One de- 
picts a drowning dog, with only its head 
showing above the water's surface. The 
water is painted a rich brown rather than 
blue, and its surface isn't horizontal but 
slopes upward from left to right across the 
painting, growing into a pillar of water that 
dwarfs the dog. Directly over the dog tow- 
ers yet another column, a void of golden 
air The dog's expression seems strangely 
impassive in the face of its impending 
doom. Why did the artist use that strange 
color, slope, and expression? What does 
the painting mean? 

The other painting depicts two horses 
hurthng over a cliff. The horse in front has 
already shot out into the void, somer- 

saulted upside down, and is plunging with 
its extended legs pawing the air. The horse 
behind is about to go over the cliff in full 
gallop; one of its forelegs has just cleared 
the edge as it leaps toward its companion. 
The literal nrieaning of the scene is vivid 
enough. But what did the artist mean, de- 
picting the horses at this moment? 

Drowning Dog, mounted on the walls 
of Madrid's Prado Museum, is one of the 
famous Black Paintings executed by the 
Spanish artist Francisco Jose de Goya 
about 1820. The falling horses, painted on 
the walls of Lascaux Cave in southwestern 
France, were executed by an unknown 
Cro-Magnon artist about 15,000 B.C. The 
comparison of the two paintings furnished 
a sobering start to a recent study tour that I 
made through Lascaux and other Cro- 
Magnon caves, in the hopes of better un- 

Clay bisons in Tiic d'AiidoHheri Cave, hntnci 

Robert B^gouen 

22 Natoral History 3/93 

derstanding those ancient artists. We know 
Goya's name. Detailed biographies of his 
life are available, many of us still speak his 
language, his culture lives on today, and 
we know the circumstances under which 

More on Early Humans 

The new Hall of Human Biology and Evo- 
lution will open on April 23 at the Ameri- 
can Museum of Natural History. In con- 
junction with this event, the April and 
May issues of Natural History will con- 
tain special sections on human evolution 
and paleolithic art. 

he created his Black Paintings. Despite all 
that, we still cannot plumb Goya's 
thoughts: his Drowning Dog remains in- 
scrutable. If I could not understand Goya's 
painting, how could I hope to understand 
paintings by unknown artists, speaking an 
unknown language in the remote past, and 
practicing a vanished life style? 

My interest in visiting Cro-Magnon 
caves grew out of my recent book, Tiie 
Tliird, in which I had tried to 
find animal precursors for our apparently 
uniquely human traits. That effort should 
be possible because our genes are still 98.4 
percent identical with chimp genes, and 
because our behavior was largely apelike 
as recently as a hundred thousand years 
ago. I had no difficulty tracing murder and 
genocide by humans directly to the same 
practices in chimps, with little difference 
except for our more efficient weapons. 
While human language, sexuality, and tool 
use may appear to be unique, clear precur- 
sors exist in chimps. 


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The most puzzling human product for 
me was art, which suddenly burgeoned 
about 30,000 years ago at the time of our 
"great leap forward," when other signs of 
human inventiveness also appeared rather 
suddenly in the archeological record. I 
thought that I could tentatively identify 
some remote forerunners of human art, 
such as bower decoration by bowerbirds. 
Nevertheless, human art is so distinctive 
that I had to wonder whether it really is an 
expansion of those animal precedents, or 
something basically new and unprece- 

Most of human prehistory has left be- 
hind no convincing trace of art at all. Per- 
haps our remote ancestors painted their 
bodies, but if that was the first art, it 
wouldn't have survived for us to know 
about. The first preserved art developed 
more or less simultaneously in Europe, 
Africa, and Australia, with some further 
recent discoveries of old art in Asia and 
the Americas as well. That dawn of art 
was also the flowering of human inven- 
tiveness, reflected in the rapid develop- 
ment of sewn clothing, complex houses, 
multipiece specialized tools, and many 
other inventions. 

Early art itself assumed many forms, 
ranging from wood- and bone-carving, en- 
graving, bas relief, and three-dimensional 
sculpture to painting and music. Best 
known to modem Europeans are the cave 
paintings of so-called Cro-Magnon people 
in France and Spain, living in the era 
termed the Upper PaleoUthic (from about 
40,000 to 10,000 years ago). Those cave 
paintings rivet our attention not only be- 

cause they include great art by any stan- 
dard but also because of the obvious ques- 
tions that flash out. What sort of people 
were those painters? What motivated 
them to paint and why did they do it in 
caves? How did their style change with 
time? Was Cro-Magnon art a brief fad or a 
long tradition? Why did it end so abruptly 
about 10,000 years ago? 

Curiosity about all those questions led 
me to jump at an opportunity to visit Las- 
caux and Altamira, the Sistine Chapels of 
Cro-Magnon art, as well as other nearby 
caves. I owe a large debt to Margaret Con- 
key, Laurence Beasley, Count Robert Be- 
gouen, Jean Clottes, and Henry Hopkins 
for their patience with all my questions. 

As a serious cave explorer during my 
student years, my first reaction was appre- 
ciation for the Cro-Magnon speleological 
accomplishments. In multilevel caves, 
such as Tuc d'Audoubert and Gargas, the 
scattered artifacts prove that Cro-Magnon 
people reached all accessible gaUeries on 
several levels. They explored many miles 
of passages in long caves like Rouffignac 
and Niaux and were stopped only by 
sumps (passages flooded to the roof), 
which also stopped twentieth-century spe- 
lunkers until the recent development of 
cave-diving gear. Why did they explore 
the caves? The answer seems obvious 
upon entering. The long, high, silent black 
corridors of Gargas and Rouffignac fill the 
viewer with awe, while the riot of colored 
stalactites and stalagmites in Cougnac 
stuns us with its beauty. Probably Cro- 
Magnon spelunkers explored for the same 
reasons. In that respect, as in so many oth- 

24 Natural. History 3/93 

ers, they were modem humans, whereas 
their predecessors, the Neanderthals — hke 
modem apes — rarely penetrated the caves 
beyond the zone of sunlight. 

We think of cave art as made by "cave- 
men," a term that immediately evokes im- 
ages of hairy bmtes, partly draped in ani- 
mal furs but with at least one shoulder 
bare, clubbing instead of wooing their 
brides, and grunting over a fire. Even the 
informational film shown to tourists at the 
excavated Cro-Magnon site of Abri Pa- 
taud perpetuates this nonsense. 

In fact, the Cro-Magnons lived far from 
caves, as well as within them; we think of 
them as cavemen only because the gar- 
bage they left in caves is more likely to 
have been preserved than other artifacts. 
From their garbage, burials, and art, we 
know that they had needles, buttons, sewn 
clothing, and parkas and were probably as 
warmly dressed as modem Eskimos. Rela- 
tionships among existing languages today 
suggest that fully developed languages 
had akeady arisen tens of thousands of 
years ago; the Cro-Magnons may have 
spoken a language ancestral to a modem 
one. Their caves are still littered with their 
stone lamps, fuel caches, paving stones, 
paints, crayons, palettes, and even their 
feces and food scraps. They marked caves 
hke Niaux with trail signs termed clavi- 
forms, which wamed Cro-Magnon tour- 
ists to stay on the right-hand side of wide 
passages, to look for art in concealed 
niches, and to avoid bumping their heads 
in places with low ceilings. Their foot- 
prints are still on the cave floor, their hand- 
prints and marks of their scaffolding still 
on the cave walls. While visiting some of 
the sites, I had the vivid sense that the 
artists had walked off the job only yester- 

That same sense was apparent in the re- 
actions of some Eskimo hunter/artists sent 
by the Canadian government earlier this 
year to visit the French cave of Tuc d' Au- 
doubert. Its owner. Count Robert Be- 
gouen, explained to the visitors that car- 
bon- 14 dating demonstrated that the cave 
had been occupied more than 10,000 years 
ago. Whatever impression that explana- 
tion made faded as the visitors saw the 
footprints, lamps, and other obvious signs 
of people with a familiar life style. When 
the Eskimos came to the first Cro-Magnon 
engravings, they praised them to Begouen, 
convinced that he himself was the artist. 
Again he explained about carbon- 14 dat- 
ing, and they went on through the cave 
until they reached the last chamber, with 
its spectacularly realistic clay models of 

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Land Adventures with 
Expert Lecturers 

China's Silk Road by Train 
May 7-21, 1993 

Ancient cities and stunning land- 
scapes, including Beijing, Xi'an, 
Buddhist Caves, Dunhuang, Turfan 
and Urumchi. 

Berlin to Istanbul by Train 
May 13-26,1993 

Cities and towns of Eastern Eu- 
rope, including Berlin, Dresden, 
Prague, Krakow, Budapest, 
Transylvania, Sofia and Istanbul. 

Islands of Indonesia: 

Sumatra, Java and Bali 

July 11-28, 1993 

Sumatra's orangutans and tradi- 
tional villages; Java's renowned ar- 
cheological sites; and the beautiful 
art and architecture of Bali. 

Australia Air Safari 
September 6-21, 1993 

A journey by private aircraft to 
Sydney, Kangaroo Island, Ayers 
Rock, Ahce Springs, Amhem Land, 
Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef. 

Beijing to Moscow 
China, Mongolia and Siberia 

September 7-23, 1993 
The Great Wall, ancient Buddhist 
caves, the vast Gobi, traditional 
yurt camps. Lake Baikal, Siberian 
towns and villages and Moscow. 

Museum of 

Discovery Tours 

Central Park West at 79th St. 

New York, NY 10024 

(212) 769-5700 in NYS 

Toll-free (800) 462-8687 

bison. At that point, the visitors enthusias- 
tically complimented Begouen on "his" 
beautiful sculptures. 

I relate this story not to poke fun at the 
visitors but because their perceptions were 
correct. If it were not for the carbon- 14 
dates, the caves would indeed convince us 
that the human artifacts are modem, left 
behind by people not too dissimilar in life 
style to modern Eskimo hunter/artists. 
Many of the nineteenth-century Euro- 
peans who discovered Cro-Magnon cave 
art before the days of carbon- 14 dating be- 
lieved that it was recent. Depictions of an- 
imals in Rouffignac Cave have been 
known since at least a.d. 1575, yet debate 
persists today as to whether they are Cro- 
Magnon engravings or just modem graffiti 
(because engravings cannot be radiocar- 
bon dated). 

Like modern art, Cro-Magnon art 
varies widely in quality, even within the 
same cave chamber. Some of it impresses 
us as great, some as amateurish. Profes- 
sional artists visiting the caves with me 
pointed out the sophisticated techniques 
by which some Cro-Magnon artists suc- 
ceeded in conveying a sense of scale, mo- 
tion, and perspective. Exquisite pieces 
such as the clay bison and the carved wres- 
tling ibex from Tuc d'Audoubert achieve 
their expressiveness with an economy of 
hne and shape. Especially notable is the 
obviously intentional exploitation of irreg- 
ular cave surfaces to transform some cave 
paintings into three-dimensional composi- 
tions. For example, when I knew the 
falling horses of Lascaux only from pho- 
tographs, I had no inkUng that the horse to 
the rear is painted on a wall with a ledge, 
so that it seems actually to be stepping 
over the ledge; the painting thereby be- 
comes more terrifying. Similarly, the two 
famous reclining, curled-up bison of Al- 
tamira are painted on bulges in the ceihng 
that emphasize their central role in the 
painted bison herd. 

Besides being great artists, Cro- 
Magnon painters were also keen biolo- 
gists. Some animals are depicted with 
anatomically correct details as small as a 
bison's tear duct or a mammoth's anal op- 
erculum. Failing to understand or appreci- 
ate what good biologists Cro-Magnon 
artists were has led art historians into some 
embarrassing misinterpretations. For in- 
stance, on the ceihng of Altamira's Great 
Hall are painted twenty bison, some of 
them unmistakably females with udders, 
others males with details of the penis visi- 
ble. Some art historians deny that the vari- 
ous animals depicted constitute a unified 

composition, and even that "primitive 
people" were capable of planning a unified 
composition. One well-known theory in- 
terprets all Cro-Magnon art as symbolic, 
not naturalistic, and interprets the pairs of 
animals in the Great Hall as representa- 
tions of masculine/feminine duahsm and 
unrelated to other pairs. 

But modem studies of the mating be- 
havior of bison strongly suggest that the 
Great Hall depicts, with stunning accu- 
racy, a herd of bison during their brief late- 
summer mt, the sole time of year when 
adult male and female bison associate 
closely. Biological understanding can even 
explain a scene of which art historians 
have been unable to make any sense: a de- 
piction of a female bison mounting a 
male! As fanners and animal behaviorists 
are aware, and as Aristode described more 
than 2,000 years ago, sexually receptive 
cows and female bison often do mount 
bulls to arouse them if they are not quite 
ready to copulate. Thus, the Altamira 
Great Hall may be neither a collection of 
individual paintings that happen to share 
the same ceiling nor a symboUc expres- 
sion of male/female duaUty, but a unified 
reahstic composition by an artist or group 
of artists familiar with bison habits. 

Why do most of the larger cave paint- 
ings depict animals, rather than people? A 
simple explanation used to be accepted: 
that the paintings were of the animal spe- 
cies most often hunted. We now reahze 
that although the most frequently painted 
animals — horses and bison — were indeed 
hunted, they account for a much higher 
proportion of painted animals than of the 
hunter's bag. We know what Cro-Magnon 
artists were eating because they ate lunch 
on their scaffolding and dropped their 
garbage — piles of animal bones — beneath 
them. Among large mammal species, the 
ones most frequendy eaten were red deer, 
reindeer, and ibex. As a joke among arche- 
ologists goes, "The Cro-Magnons had 
deer and ibex in their stomachs, but horse 
and bison on their minds." Their stomachs 
were also full of unheroic small animals, 
such as clams, ptarmigan, and salmon — 
which they did not paint. 

I believe that these prejudices of Cro- 
Magnon artists were as thoroughly mod- 
em as the trail signs that they sprinkled 
throughout their caves. In today's art, too, 
the animals that we prefer to depict aren't 
the ones that we most often eat, use, or en- 
counter. If future archeologists sample 
American gates and other decorative ob- 
jects, the archeologists might be deceived 
into beheving that lions and eagles were 

26 Natural History 3/93 

tlir more familiar to us (and to Western 
artists for the last 4,000 years) than squir- 
rels or cows. In villages throughout New 
Guinea, village art regularly depicts croc- 
odiles, hombills, and sea eagles, rather 
than such frequently eaten species as pi- 
geons, pigs, and possums. Just imagine the 
United States seal of state displaying a 
squirrel or a New Guinea house pole 
crowned by a carved pigeon! 

Modem peoples are attracted to certain 
animal species either because of the quali- 
ties that they symbolize (the strength of a 
lion, eagle, or crocodile) or because of 
their striking anatomy (the hombill's huge 
bill). Similarly, Cro-Magnon artists may 
have preferred painting speedy horses and 
powerful bison to depicting the slimy little 
clams that filled their stomachs. 

Why did Cro-Magnons create cave art 
at all? Archeologists used to debate uni- 
tary functional interpretations: that the 
paintings represented mindless copies of 
nature by savage people, or magical rites 
to ensure success at hunting, or parapher- 
nalia for impressing naive teen-agers at 
initiation ceremonies, or depictions of 
myths, and so on. Such unitary theories 
fell into disfavor as anthropologists began 
to ask contemporary aboriginal Aus- 
tralians and Bushmen why they create 
their own rock art. The reasons turned out 
to be ones that any future art historian 
would be very unlikely to deduce. The 
same image — for example, a fish painted 
by aboriginal Australians — proves to have 
been painted for different reasons on dif- 
ferent occasions. Some fish paintings 
serve to mark a tribal territory, others tell a 
story ("I caught this big fish"), still others 
spring from the trances of shamans. It 
shouldn't surprise us that the Cro- 
Magnons' motives may have been equally 
diverse, given all the other evidence for 
their modem mentality. If you're disap- 
pointed to realize that Lascaux's falling 
horses may always remain as obscure to us 
as Goya's Drowning Dog, you've still dis- 
covered something far more important in 
the process: that Upper Paleolithic people 
were already much more like us in their 
minds than in their technology. 

Meanwhile, new scientific techniques 
are emerging that show promise of being 
able to answer other intriguing questions 
about early art. If we could date enough 
Cro-Magnon paintings, for instance, we 
could trace the development of humanity's 
first art styles, and we could say whether 
Cro-Magnon artists of France and Spain 
might have been contemporaries within 
the same tradition. 

L 1.4.x C4X JLXXC9lV.rX1 


RedfscoueRing Russia 

and the Baltics 

June lA-9.9, 1PP5 



'Gdanslc Kalingrad 
'Lubeck Rugen POLAND RUSSU 


NETHERLANDS .- , • / .o- '.^^y^ 

'# > 

Join a team of American Museum and guest lecturers this 
summer aboard the 41 -cabin Polaris as we explore some of 
the great cities and medieval ports of Russia and the new 
Baltic States. Many of these cities, important Hanseatic 
League ports in the Middle Ages, are once again in positions 
of prominence as capitals of newly independent countries. 
Come discover the magnificent architecture of St. Petersburg; 
the medieval quarter of Estonia's capital, Tallinn; Latvia's 
architectural gem, Riga; the historic Lithuanian city of 
Klaipeda; Kaliningrad, founded by Teutonic Knights in 1255; 
Gdansk, a 1,000-year-old Polish city famed for its Gothic 
facades; Lubeck, Germany's charming red-brick city and the 
medieval capital of the Hanseatic League; and Amsterdam, the 
Netherland's captivating city of bridges and canals. Join us for 
an exciting look at the past and a peek into the future of this 
historic region. 

Museum of 
Discovery Cruises 

Central Park West at 79th St. 

New York, NY 10024-5192 

(800) 462-8687 or 

inNYS (212)769-5700 

Rediscover Your World 

Until recently, the prospect of radiocar- 
bon-dating the precious paintings them- 
selves seemed out of reach, because too 
much would have to be scraped off and de- 
stroyed in the process. Instead, archeolo- 
gists have tried to date the paintings by ei- 
ther of two methods. First, they dated 
human rubbish left in the caves — but the 
rubbish often proves to span thousands of 
years, leaving it uncertain which particular 
piece of rubbish was contemporary with 
the paintings. Second, archeologists tried 
to place paintings in a temporal sequence 
on the assumption that art styles progress 
from simple (schematic, monochromatic, 
face-on depictions) to complex (realistic, 
polychromatic, using more difficult per- 
spectives). However, this method is com- 
pletely circular, since the goal is to trace 
style changes from known dates rather 
than vice versa. In addition, as we know 
from our own experience, paintings that 
unsuspecting historians might have placed 
10,000 years apart on stylistic grounds 
were created during some of the same 
decades of the twentieth century. 

Just this year, a new technique has 
yielded the first absolute dates for some 
well-known Cro-Magnon paintings — and 
those dates have included some surprises. 

The technique relies on an instrument 
called an accelerator mass spectrometer, 
which separates and counts individual car- 
bon isotopes and thus requires only tiny 
amounts of carbon from charcoal-based 
black paints themselves. Three of the fa- 
mous bison at Altamira prove to have been 
painted 14,000 years ago. A bison at the 
nearby cave of El Castillo, previously con- 
sidered contemporary with the Altamira 
bison because of stylistic similarity, was 
actually executed a thousand years later. 
Another bison from the Black Room of 
Niaux, previously assumed to have been 
painted much later, actually dates to about 
12,900 years ago, making it virtually con- 
temporary with the El Castillo bison. 
These results confirm that styles do not 
develop in a straight line and that a given 
year's paintings need not be stylistically 

One new technique involves dating the 
mineral "varnishes" that accumulate natu- 
rally over a cave painting, and still another 
is based on analyzing the chemical com- 
position of the paints. Like modem paints, 
Cro-Magnon paints consisted of pigments 
to which were added plant, animal, or 
mineral binders that improved paint adhe- 
sion and prevented cracking. Cro-Magnon 

binder preferences, and hence paint com- 
position, changed with time, allowing us 
to date Cro-Magnon paintings in the same 
way that we can recognize forged "me- 
dieval" paintings by the modem chemicals 
in their paints. Other new approaches to 
understanding Cro-Magnon artists will 
come through analyzing the footprints, 
handprints, and fingerprints that they left 
in the caves. Those approaches may tell us 
how many different individuals created the 
paintings, and how closely they were re- 
lated to each other and to modem Euro- 
peans, since fingerprints are genetically 

All these are ways in which modem sci- 
ence can teach us about art of the remote 
past. But there is also an important lesson 
that Cro-Magnon art — in particular, its 
sudden end — can teach us about our own 
future. Cro-Magnon art reached a brilliant 
summit at the end of the ice ages, in the so- 
called Magdalenian phase, when Al- 
tamira's Great Hall, the bulls and horses of 
Lascaux, and the Black Room of Niaux 
were painted. The next archeological 
phase of southwest Europe, termed the 
Azilian, produced no cave paintings at all; 
Cro-Magnon sculptures, engravings, jew- 
elry, and other art forms also vanished. 


Exploring Alaska's 

Coastal Wilderness 

July 10-19, 1993 

Discover the .spectacular natural beauty of southeast Alaska with a 
team of gifted American Museum and guest lecturers aboard the 
nimble and maneuverable M.V. Sea Lion. With a group of just 74 
people, we will cruise the picturesque Alaskan coastline in search 
of the abundant and varied wildlife of this stunning region. 

From the ship and on shore excursions, we will observe whales, sea 
lions, seals, bears, eagles and a host of other animals in their natural 
habitats. In addition to enjoying fjords, rivers, glaciers, channels 
and mountains, we will stop occasionally to enjoy both the hospi- 
tality and local cuisine of historic villages as well as the beautiful 
artwork of the Native Americans of the Northwest Coast. 

For complete details write or call the Museum toll-free outside New 
York State (800) 462-8687 or (212) 769-5700. 

Museum of 
i ^i'i I History Central Park West at 79th Street 

Discovery Cruises NewYork,NY 10024-5192 

The sole surviving art from the Azilian 
consists of crade spots of almost mono- 
chromatic paint daubed on pebbles. More 
than six thousand years were to pass be- 
fore westem European art began to regain 
the qualit}' reached by the Cro-Magnons. 
It is as if Cro-Magnon society had been 
bombed back into the Early Stone Age, 
and the sunivors too sturmed to be able to 
paint. What acmally happened? 

To judge from the number of archeolog- 
ical sites, westem Europe's human popu- 
lation was much lower in the Azilian than 
at the height of the Magdalenian. To judge 
from the geographic distribution of human 
artifacts, the Azilian's sunivors practiced 
much less long-distance trade, moved 
shorter distances, and depended more on 
local resources than had the Cro- 
Magnons. Europe's cultural unity fell into 

What might ha\e caused this coUapse? 
The abundant big game on which Cro- 
Magnon civilization had depended \an- 
ished. Mammoths and woolly rhinos be- 
came extinct; horse, bison, and red deer 
populations declined in westem Europe; 
cold-loving reindeer vanished from France 
and Spain and retreated north to Scandi- 
navia; and cold-loving ibex retreated to- 
ward the tops of Europe's mountains. In 
turn, the cause of these population crashes 
was twofold: global warming at the end of 
the Pleistocene ice ages, plus o\'erkill by 
the increasingly sophisticated weapons of 
growing numbers of Cro-Magnon hunters. 

Think of that chain of e\'ents: human 
population explosion; destructi\e tech- 
nologies; global warming; a crash in food 
supply; a crash in human numbers; the 
sunivors fragmented into local bands, out 
of touch with each other; a collapse of civ- 
ilization and art; people reduced to daub- 
ing spots of paint on pebbles. It all sounds 
so familiar because it is the oft-discussed 
environmental holocaust that we fear may 
befall our children in the u\ent\'-first cen- 
tury. While our sophisticated weapons are 
no longer made of stone or wood, and 
while we ourselves, rather than astronom- 
ical cycles, are the cause of today's global 
warming, the scenario is othenvise eerily 
identical. Is the whole world now spiraling 
down into another .Azilian age? The mean- 
ing of Lascaux's horses may remain in- 
scrutable, but there is no misreading the 
Azilian's warning to us. 

Jared Diamond is a professor of physiol- 
ogy at UCLA Medical School and a re- 
search associate in the Museum s depart- 
ment of ornithology. 


From the grandeur and magic 
of the 1000 Islands through 
the International Seaway 
Locks to the ramparts of 
Old Quebec City and to 
ttie Capital of Canada 


Board our elegant replica turn- 

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Black Branch Barrens, Texas 

by Robert H. Mohlenbrock 

Barrens — natural forest openings with 
prairie plants — are habitats that the Nature 
Conservancy ranks as threatened around 
the world. In a dry, upland region of the 
Angelina National Forest of southeastern 
Texas, the oak and hickory woodland con- 
tains barrens noteworthy for the rare plants 
that grow there. The area has been little 
disturbed, although it lies just three miles 
from the region inundated by the Sam 
Raybum Reservoir. 

Naturalists employ the terms barrens, 
glade, anA prairie for forest openings with 

prairie plants, frequently using them inter- 
changeably. Botanist Alice Heikens de- 
fines them more precisely, on the basis of 
soil and vegetation. Prairies and glades are 
both openings containing few or no trees 
and shmbs. Prairie soil has no exposed 
rocks, while a glade has rocks of various 
sizes scattered over the surface. Glades 
may be further classified by the nature of 
the rocks — sandstone, limestone, dolo- 
mite, and granite. Small trees may take 
hold in the crevices between some of the 
rocks. Barrens may or may not have rocks; 

what distinguishes them is that the prairie 
vegetation grows beneath a canopy of 
trees, which are usually stunted. 

Black Branch BaiTens, covering half a 
square mile, fits Heikens's definition of 
barrens because small trees are scattered 
across the undulating terrain. Such habi- 
tats are now rare in North America, in part 
because so much land has been cleared for 
agriculture. Elsewhere, the suppression of 
natural fires has disturbed the ecology, al- 
lowing forest vegetation to take over. 

The blackjack and post oaks at Black 

Ncmisuki kidu's' -tresses, left, is an orchid that grows at Black Branch 
Barrens. Siunied by poor soil and periodic ground fires, the barrens' trees, 
above, allow considerable sunlight to reach the forest floor 

Paul Montgomery 

1 Black Branch Barrens 

Branch Barrens are stunted — most are less 
than thirty feet tall — because the soil is 
poor in nutrients and dry much of the year. 
Low-intensity ground fires caused by 
Ughtning strikes have also discouraged the 
encroachment of woody plants. Shrubs 
that grow along with the oaks include wild 
privet, parsley-leaved hawthorn, and high- 
bush blueberry. The trees and shrubs are 
spaced far enough apart to provide areas 
with littie shade, favorable to the growth 
of prairie species. 

Clumps of Uttle bluestem, pineywoods 
dropseed, and other bunch grasses dot the 
ground, while the most common wild- 
flower is Nuttall's rayless goldenrod, a 
plant lacking the yellow, petallike rays of 
the more fainiliar goldenrod. Pink milk- 
wort, baptisia, neptunia, rough button- 
weed, Texas coneflower, five kinds of 
blazing-stars, and pencil-flower, all typical 
of dry, open areas, grow in abundance. 
Here and there rattlesnake-master raises 
its spherical flower heads, belying its 
membership in the carrot family, which 
usually has flowers in umbrella-shaped 
clusters. Lichens are also common in the 

According to Steve Orzell and Edwin 
Bridges, both southeastern botanists. 
Black Branch Barrens is enriched by a 
number of plants endemic, or unique, to 
the West Gulf Coastal Plain, as well as 
some species with sporadic distributions 
that are rare in southeastern Texas. Nava- 
sota ladies' -tresses, a small white-flow- 
ered orchid that has been hsted as endan- 
gered, is one of the endemics. Others are 
golden hedge hyssop, which is a bright, 
golden-yellow wildflower related to the 
snapdragon, and slender gay feather. 

which has a few lavender-purple flowering 
heads arranged on a very slender spike. 
Nearly endemic is Texas sunnybells, a 
member of the lily family with small, bell- 
shaped flowers. Among the rare plants 
OrzeU and Bridges have recorded at the 
barrens are Drummond's sandwort, least 
daisy, San Saba pinweed, Nuttall's milk 
vetch, western dandelion, Texas saxifrage, 
and smooth phacelia. 

Botanists K. L. Marietta and E. S. 
Nixon have attempted to shed light on 
why fliis plant community has arisen here. 
They report that the topsoil is only about 
two feet deep but contams an accumula- 
tion of clay, so that water seeps through it 
slowly. The clay is montmorillonite, the 
same type of spongy clay that is gradually 

For visitor information write: 
Forest Supervisor 
National Forests in Texas 
Homer Garrison Federal Building 
701 N. First Street 
Lufkin, Texas 75901 
(409) 639-8501 

creeping down Colorado's Mesa Seco to 
form Slumgullion Slide (see Natural His- 
tory, April 1989). During the cooler, 
rainier seasons of the year, the soil be- 
comes saturated, but in late spring and 
summer, it dries out and develops cracks. 
In addition, the soil is low in some nutri- 
ents, such as phosphorus. The rare plants 
in the barrens apparently do weU under 
these conditions, perhaps in part because 
the growth of potential competitors is dis- 

A woodland of post oak, blackjack oak, 
and black hickory, with occasional winged 
elm and water oak, surrounds the barrens. 
Because of the better soil conditions, the 
trees may grow seventy-five feet high. 
Common shrubs are wild privet, high- 
bush blueberry, two kinds of hollies, and 
two kinds of hawthorns. The grasses and 
wildflowers include narrow-leaved sea 
oats, woodland buttercup, black snake- 
root, small-flowered skullcap, and blue- 
leaved sage, all species characteristic of 
shady forest floors. Only a very few of the 
barrens' prairie species can survive be- 
neath the abundant trees. D 

Golden hyssop are wildflowers unique to the 
West Gulf Coastal Plain. 

32 Natural History 3/93 

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A miiriqui leaps across a i>ap in the 
canopy of Brazil's Atlantic forest. 
Although the monkeys may weigh PA'enty 
pounds or more, they are very agile, often 
traveling rapidly through the trees in 
search of food. 

Andrew L. Young 

Menu for a 

The muriquis diet may reveal the medical 
riches of a South American forest 

by Karen B. Strier 

The muriquis were on the move again, 
swinging hand over hand through the trees 
in single file as fast as I could count them. 
I stumbled in pursuit down the overgrown 
trail, skipping over protruding roots in an 
effort to avoid falling flat on my face. The 
monkeys were already out of sight by the 
time I reached the valley bottom and 
began the steep climb up the opposite side. 
But as I stopped on the crest of the ridge to 
catch my breath, excited neighs and chirps 
coming from a large fig tree on the slope 
below gave away the muriquis' location. 
Less urgently now, 1 left the trail and made 
my way through the dense undergrowth to 
a spot where I could sit and watch the en- 
tire group almost at eye level. 

The canopy of the tree was laden with 
fruit — the muriquis would enjoy a respite 
of several days following the difficult trek 
they had made that morning. They would 
camp out here, feasting on the abundant 
ripe figs until the fruit was neariy depleted 
and it was time for them to search for their 
next meal. Then they might lead me on an- 
other long, high-speed chase through the 
forest or meander at a more leisurely pace, 
eating leaves along the way, until they dis- 
covered another fruit tree where they 
would camp out again. 

After studying the same group of 
muriquis, or woolly spider monkeys, over 
the past decade, I have grown accustomed 
to what at first had seemed to be their un- 
predictable behavior. Part of my early con- 
fusion was the result of how little was 
known about this primate when I first trav- 
eled to their homeland, the Atlantic forest 

of southeastern Brazil. But scattered ob- 
servations by a handful of scientists, as 
well as anatomical descriptions of mu- 
seum specimens, had raised an intriguing 

Muriquis are the largest monkeys in the 
New World, with adults of both sexes 
weighing twenty pounds or more. Their 
large bodies signal that they, like many 
other large-bodied primates, have a rela- 
tively low metabolism. This allows them 
to subsist on leaves, a food that is easily 
obtained in large quantities but is low in 
readily available energy. Their well-devel- 
oped jaws and chewing muscles and 
sharp, crested molars enable them to break 
open the leaves' tough cell walls, releasing 
the nutrients stored inside and making 
them easier to digest. In this respect, 
muriquis resemble howler monkeys, 
which live throughout much of Central 
and South America. 

Yet muriquis do not share the howlers' 
slow, quadrupedal method of climbing 
through the trees. Instead, they swing 
through the branches by their arms, an en- 
ergetically costly mode of travel, better 
suited to tracking widely dispersed but en- 
ergy-rich food sources, such as fruit, rather 
than the more ubiquitous leaves. This 
"suspensory" locomotion is a trait that 
muriquis .share with their closest cousins, 
the spider monkeys, which live in Central 
America and in the Amazon basin. Ac- 
cording to primatologist John Cant, spider 
monkeys can specialize in eating fruit be- 
cause they can cut down on travel time. 

To reconcile the evidence of seemingly 

34 Natural History 3/93 

contradictory feeding adaptations, I set out 
in 1982 to study muriquis in the wild at the 
3.5-square-mile forest at Fazenda Monies 
Claros in Minas Gerais, Brazil. I quickly 
discovered that what muriquis eat is only 
one of the notable characteristics of this 
species, for unliice nearly all other pri- 
mates, muriquis live a social life strikingly 
free of aggression. Fights never break out 
within groups over access to food or the 
best feeding sites, and there is no dis- 
cernible pecking order. Group members 
simply wait patiently for their turn to eat, 
and they avoid feeding so closely together 
as to interfere with one another. 

The rules of etiquette among muriquis 
extend well beyond their courteous dining 
manners, for relations between the sexes 
are egalitarian. The muriquis live in 
groups that include several adults of both 

sexes, as opposed, for example, to just fe- 
males and one adult male. Among most 
other primates that live in such groups, the 
males are better equipped than the females 
for combat, being larger and having bigger 
canines. The males typically compete for 
mates, establishing a hierarchy by fighting 
among themselves. The dominant male 
can monopolize the mating scene and can 
bully the females into sexual liaisons. 

But the muriqui males and females are 
similar in size, so males can't dominate the 
females. And it is futile for males to fight 
among themselves for mates, since fe- 
males are free to choose peaceful mates. 
All this appears to result from the muri- 
quis' mixed diet. Because the monkeys 
rely at times on eating nothing but leaves, 
males and females are relatively large. At 
the same time, the need for agility in the 

long-distance pursuit of fruit limits how 
much bigger males can become. 

Since a single male cannot dominate the 
group, the male muriquis' strategy is for 
close male relatives, brothers as well as fa- 
thers and sons, to stick together in a toler- 
ant group. Instead of competing among 
themselves, they cooperate to prevent en- 
croachments from other groups of males, 
while taking advantage of whatever sexual 
opportunities the females throw their way. 
So even if a male muriqui does not have 
offspring of his own, he is assured that the 
similar genes of a close relative will be 
passed to the next generation. 

It took me a long time to crack the code 
of muriqui social behavior because 
muriquis do not reach sexual maturity 
until they are about seven years old. By 
this age, nearly all the females bom in the 

36 Natural History 3/93 

principal group I was observing hiad mi- 
grated out. The nexus of the societ\' con- 
sists of the associations among the older 
males bom to the group, their mothers and 
younger brothers, and young immigrant 

In the past ten years, this muriqui group 
has more than doubled in size, from 
twenty-two members to the current forty- 
nine, each one distinguishable by its nat- 
ural markings. Important social changes 
have coincided with this population 
growth, including a greater tendency for 
this once-cohesive group to split into 
smaller, temporary mixed-sex groups. 
Eventually it may divide permanently, but 
so far the entire group still tends to reunite 
whenever large concentrations of fruits. 
such as figs or the deliciously sweet wild 
mangoes, are discovered. 

Afi-idt tree, left, provides a group ofmuriquis with easily digested, 
energy-rich food. The group will camp out there until the supplx is 
exhausted. An adolescent male muriqui. below, will remain in his 
natal group throughout his life. The distinctive mottling that 
develops on the muzzles of the monkeys as they mature enables 
researchers to identify and track individuals over the years. 

Botn photographs by Karen B, Stner 

In recording the monkeys' diet. I ob- 
served pronounced variation from month 
to month. ov\ ing to seasonal differences in 
rainfall and available food. Over an annual 
cycle, the muriquis at Fazenda Monies 
Claros devote roughly half of their feeding 
time to leaves; one-third to fruit: one-tenth 
to flowers and flower products such as 
pollen and nectar: and the remainder to 
bark, bamboo, ferns, and grasses, which 
they come to the ground to eat. But despite 
the high contribution of leaves to their 
0%'erall diet, muriquis almost always prefer 
to eat fruits and flowers, settling dow n to a 
protracted banquet whenever they can. 

The pursuit of energy-rich fruits and 
flowers appears to dictate the muriquis' 
far-ranging movements. When these foods 
are scarce, muriquis travel faster and far- 
ther to find them. In contrast, leaves are 
usually eaten haphazardly when the mon- 
keys are shifting from one fruit source to 
another and are paid little more than pass- 
ing attention unless fruit is in short supply. 
But by consuming both types of food, the 
muriquis have evolved a successful adap- 
tation to the Atlantic forest, which because 
of its distance from the equator is more 

seasonal than, for example, the Amazon 
basin, where energy-rich fruit is available 
year round. 

In its adaptation, the muriqui differs 
from the brown howler monkey, which oc- 
cupies the same Atlantic forest habitat and 
lives a lazier life, filling up mainly on 
leaves. The muriquis" digestive system 
cannot handle such a limited diet. Howler 
monkeys have elongated intestines rela- 
tive to their body size, and there is ample 
time for nutrients from leaves to be ab- 
sorbed as food travels slowly through their 
gut. Muriquis also have proportionately 
long intestines, but food passes through 
them much more rapidly. In a study of 
captive animals, primatologist Katharine 
Milton found that food passed through a 
muriqui "s digestive tract more than nvice 
as fast as it did through a howler mon- 
key's. In the wild, muriquis defecate every 
few hours throughout the day. whereas the 
howler monke\'s defecate just once after 
waking in the morning and once before 

While the muriquis' faster digestion 
prevents them from subsisting on ]ea\es 
alone, it also provides an advantage: they 

don't have to be as careful as howlers 
about what leaves they eat. Primatologist 
Kenneth Glander found that although 
Costa Rican howler monkeys eat substan- 
tial quantities of foliage, they are highly 
selective about what leaves they forage 
on, avoiding those with high levels of tan- 
nins and compounds such as alkaloids and 
phenolics, which can be anything from 
mildly to severely toxic. Plants produce 
these often unpalatable chemicals to de- 
fend themselves against insects and other 
animals that might consume them. 

Howler monkeys must be extremely 
choosy about their foods because their 
more deliberate digestive systems make 
them vulnerable to absorbing toxic com- 
pounds along with essential nutrients, but 
the muriquis' quick processing means that 
plant tannins and toxins, as well as many 
nutrients, are excreted before they can be 
absorbed. Ecologist Mark Leighton and 
chemist David Marks analyzed some 
thirty muriqui foods I had collected from 
the forest — ^fruits, leaves, and flowers — 
and found them to be unusually high in 
tannins and phenolics when compared 
with similar foods eaten by other monkeys 
and apes in other tropical forests. And 
when we compared the plants normally 
available at the same times of year, we 
found no evidence that the monkeys se- 
lected the ones with lower levels of tan- 
nins or other harmful compounds. 

These biochemical and physiological 
data made sense of my observations that 
muriquis generally prefer fruits over 
leaves despite the greater effort required to 
find them. Ripe, fleshy fruits, in particular, 
are usually easier to digest than leaves and 
thus, ounce for ounce, are a better source 
of nutrients and energy for a primate with 
such a rapid food-passage rate. 

Sorting out muriqui feeding habits 
could have marked the end of my study, 
but by 1989 two new questions had begun 
to intrigue me. With the help of Brazilian 
students who follow the muriquis year 
round, I had accumulated enough demo- 
graphic data to detect a consistent birth 
season during the dry months, from May 

Only one pair of twins, opposite page, was born in the muriqui 
group monitored by the author for the past ten years. As the 
infants matured, the overburdened mother could cany only one. 
The other managed to tag along but eventually disappeared, 
perhaps lost in some mishap. Below: Resting in the branches, a 
male muriqui (center) examines a female's genitals while her son 
and a playmate look on. 

Andrew L. Young 

to September. I wondered whether this 
might be related to the muriquis' seasonal 
diet. And after reading two separate ac- 
counts of chimpanzees consuming plants 
with medicinal properties when they were 
suffering from intestinal parasites, I won- 
dered whether the high level of the defen- 
sive plant compounds in the muriquis' diet 
provided them with similar protection. 

These questions could be explored si- 
multaneously because they shared a com- 

mon denominator — diet. But how could I 
examine the effects of diet on reproduc- 
tion, when female muriquis showed no 
visible signs of ovulation or pregnancy? 
And how could I detect parasitic infec- 
tions, when the parasites were hidden in 
the gut? Capturing the monkeys — to take 
blood samples to measure ovarian hor- 
mones or to probe their intestines — was 
out of the question. The muriquis are an 
endangered species, and I did not want to 


Andrew L. Young ^ f t ■' 

An adolescent male chews leaves, below, taking advantage of an 
abundant source of food. Right: A baby clings to the back of its mother. 

Andrew L Young Photo Researchers 

subject them to possibly harmful proce- 
dures, nor did it seem worthwhile to dis- 
turb them and thus risk interfering with the 
long-term behavioral study. 

After considering all kinds of sophisti- 
cated approaches, I realized that the solu- 
tion to this dilemma lay in a naturally 
abundant and renewable resource: the 
muriquis' feces. To examine ovarian hor- 
mone levels, I began collaborating with re- 

productive endocrinologist Toni Ziegler, 
who developed a technique to monitor 
muriqui feces for estrogen and proges- 
terone. And biologist Michael Stuart, 
whose specialty is identifying parasites in 
dung, has helped me in investigating 
muriqui intestinal parasite infections. By 
following recognized individuals until 
they defecated, I could collect the fecal 
samples needed for these studies and also 

keep track of what the muriquis were eat- 
ing. Phytochemist Eloy Rodriguez is ana- 
lyzing muriqui plant foods for steroids and 
bioactive compounds, and by combining 
the results from these studies, we will ulti- 
mately be able to evaluate the relation- 
ships between muriqui diet, reproduction, 
and parasite infections. 

While simple in theory, my role in these 
investigations has not been easy. The bio- 
chemical analyses of the plant foods re- 
quire gathering a grocery bag full of 
leaves or fruit from each plant species, and 
doing this after the muriquis have 
swarmed through one of their feeding 
trees is not as simple as it sounds. Collect- 
ing fresh fecal samples from identified in- 
dividuals is equally laborious. The feces 
themselves are not so unpleasant to collect 
as one might suppose because they carry 

40 Natural History 3/93 

an aromatic scent from the cinnamon 
leaves that muriquis consume. The chal- 
lenge, rather, is to get almost directly un- 
derneath the targeted individual at the mo- 
ment of defecation so that the greenish 
brown dung can be spotted before it is 
camouflaged after hitting the ground. 

Occasionally the feces land neatly in 
my glove, but more often they splatter use- 
lessly in the tangled vegetation — or else 
fall alongside another muriqui's feces, so 
that I cannot be sure whose is whose. So 
even though the muriquis defecate often 
and, in the case of adults, abundantly each 
time, getting a clean sample sometimes 
means tailing one muriqui for up to six 
hours without pause. 

The rewards for these efforts are new 
findings as promising and intriguing as 
everything else we have learned about 

muriquis. At Fazenda Montes Claros, Oc- 
tober is the onset of both the rainy season 
and the muriquis' mating season, and at 
this time the muriquis' feeding behavior 
changes. From late September to mid-Oc- 
tober, when edible fruit abounds, the mon- 
keys eat mainly the leaves of just two spe- 
cies in the legume family, Apiileia 
leiocarpa and Platypodiiim elegans. And 
in contrast to the casual treatment they 
give most other leaves, the muriquis camp 
out at these leaf sources, behaving as if 
they were preferred fruits. 

Preliminary analyses suggest that these 
leaves may contain some antimicrobial 
substances and are exceptionally low in 
the tannins so prevalent in other muriqui 
foods. The chemical role of tannins is to 
bind proteins and make them more diffi- 
cult to digest, rendering plants less attrac- 

tive as food sources. By eating these 
leaves instead of the fruits available at this 
time, both male and female muriquis may 
get an important surge in protein, fortify- 
ing them for the upcoming mating season. 
During this same critical time of year, 
muriquis also alter their behavior by mak- 
ing speedy excursions away from the cen- 
tral part of the forest, where they usually 
hang out, to the periphery, where the forest 
gives way to surrounding pasture. Once 
there, they leap across gaps in the canopy 
to reach the fruit of another species of 
legume, Entevolohiiim contortisiliqimm, 
whose common name is monkey ear. Un- 
characteristically, both male and female 
muriquis abandon the monkey ear trees 
long before the fruits are depleted, sug- 
gesting that they only need a taste to be 


The friendly embrace of two males, below, typifies the peaceful 
relations within the group. The groups males, which are closely 
related, cooperate in chasing away any rivals from outside. Right: 
Muriquis rest in the branches of a tree. 

Both photographs by Luiz Claudio Mango 

What they are seeking in these fruits is 
unknown, but monkey ear fruits contain 
stigmasterol, a steroid used in the labora- 
tory synthesis of progesterone. We don't 
know yet whether this plant hormone also 
stimulates steroid production in muriquis 
or whether it is excreted without conse- 
quence. But recent studies, including one 
by anthropologist Pat Whitten, indicate 
that plant hormones can regulate repro- 
duction in some animals. Thus stigmas- 
terol, or some other hormone lurking in 
the muriquis' diet, may turn out to be 
linked to the monkeys' seasonal fertility. 

That plants regulate muriqui reproduc- 
tion remains a highly speculative proposi- 
tion, but that they combat parasites is more 
apparent. Our first analysis showed that 
the muriquis at Fazenda Montes Claros 
were completely free of intestinal para- 
sites, a discovery so startling that we re- 
peated the fecal sampling during different 
seasons in subsequent years and looked at 
samples from the local howler monkeys 
for comparison. We also collected feces 
from another population of muriquis in- 
habiting the much larger and more pristine 
forest at Carlos Botelho State Park in the 
state of Sao Paulo. 

The subsequent analyses confiirmed and 
extended our original findings: No para- 
sites were found in the muriquis and 
howler monkeys at Fazenda Montes 
Claros, while at Carlos Botelho at least 
three species of parasites were identified 
and nearly 90 percent of the monkeys 
sampled were infected. Such marked vari- 
ation could result from any number of dif- 
ferences between the two sites, but it may 
be more than mere coincidence that many 
of the plants eaten by both muriquis and 
howler monkeys at Fazenda Montes 
Claros are the same species used by Ama- 
zonian peoples for controlling intestinal 
worms and other parasites. If these plants 
are effective in humans, there is every rea- 
son to believe that they are similarly effec- 
tive in muriquis, even if in muriquis the ef- 
fects are incidental rather than intentional. 
Far fewer of these medicinal plant species 
have been identified at the Sao Paulo for- 

est; this may explain why parasite infec- 
tions are more prevalent there. 

These pharmacological clues have set 
an urgent agenda for the next decade of 
muriqui research. Our ability to explore 
the medicinal properties of plants in 
Brazil's Adantic forest is jeopardized by 
continued habitat destruction. In the past 
century, the Atlantic forest has been re- 
duced to less than 5 percent of its original 

area, threatening rare plants, and the mon- 
keys that depend on them, with permanent 
extinction. While traditional peoples of 
the Amazon have survived long enough to 
impart to us some of their knowledge of 
forest plants, the indigenous human soci- 
eties of the Atlantic forest are long gone. 
The muriquis and other monkeys may pro- 
vide humans with their best guides to the 
forest's medicinal value. □ 

42 Natural History 3/93 

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It's time for a change to the wines of Ernest and Julio Gallo. 


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A J /U-million-year-old fossil. lep,p-om deposits near Uilboa, 
Nev.' York, reveals the head and upper body segments of the 
earliest known centipede. 

One Small Step for 
an Arthropod 

In a giant leap in the histoiy of life, invertebrates set 
foot on land more than 400 million years ago 

by William A. Shear 

As the sun goes down over a tropical 
swamp, mist begins to form, drifting in 
wisps among the stems of leafy plants 
growing along the margins of a sluggish, 
shallow stream. Down in the mat of fallen, 
decaying stems, life stirs. A spider 
watches for prey at the entrance to its silk- 
lined burrow. It may not have to wait long; 
a centipede is forcing a path between the 
tangled stems. Before it reaches the spi- 
der's burrow, the centipede suddenly 
swings its flattened head to one side, 
snatches its own prey, a primitive-looking 
wingless insect, and immediately begins 
to feed. Nearby, another tiny predator 
grooms its appendages. It is a false scor- 
pion, which will soon begin a slow, blind 
hunt amid the debris, using long hairs ex- 
tending from its pincerlike palps to detect 
the movements of mites and other small 

While this vignette could describe the 
night life in nearly any community of soil- 
and litter-dwelling animals today, some of 
these creatures are definitely unfamiliar. 
When the false scorpion does detect and 
capture its prey, the victim is likely to be a 
small, flattened, multilegged animal quite 
unlike anything even the most observant 
soil ecologist has ever seen. Abundant 
among the predators are animals that, for 
all their similarity to spiders, lack the typi- 
cal spider silk-spinning apparatus and 
have armor-plated bodies and unusual 
compound eyes. Even the plants in our 
scene have a curiously primitive look. De- 
spite the tropical environment, there are 
no trees; only shrublike plants grow above 
a tufted mat of tall but mossy herbs. 

The combination of the familiar and the 

strange should tell you that you have been 
indulging a paleontologist in a favorite 
pastime: imagining what life might have 
been like when ancient plants and animals, 
now known only by traces in rocks, were 
alive. The brief story I have told is from 
the Devonian period some 370 million 
years ago and might have taken place 
along the Hudson River not far from New 
York City. The scene is of special interest 
because it reflects a stage in an important, 
ongoing process in the earth's history: the 
populating of the continents with plants 
and animals. Like other scenarios of an- 
cient life reconstructed by paleontologists, 
this one is supported by evidence from the 
fossil remains of animals. Most of that ev- 

idence has come to light only in the past 
twelve years. 

In 1981, 1 attended a scientific meeting 
in Radford, Virginia, where I met a col- 
league from Scotland, Ian Rolfe, who was 
on an extended visit to the United States to 
study arthropod fossils. At that time, I 
would have been hard pressed even to rec- 
ognize an arthropod fossil, aside from the 
common trilobites. All my research in- 
volved the systematics and evolution of 
living arthropods, especially arachnids 
(spiders and their relatives) and myriapods 
(millipedes and centipedes). Ian had just 
visited a paleobotanical, or fossil plant, 
laboratory at the State University of New 
York at Binghamton in upstate New York 

A centipede guards its eggs. 

Photographs by William A. Shear 

and had brought back pictures of some un- 
usual fossils. If I liked, I could see them 
the next moming at breakfast. That event 
turned out to be a pivotal moment in my 
research career and brought out the hidden 
paleontologist in my makeup. 

The pictures were of tiny specks of 
brown matter that had shown up with plant 
fossils. When I examined the pictures, I 
felt as if I were viewing samples taken 
from a contemporary community of litter 
dwellers, yet Ian assured me that these had 
come from rocks more than 370 million 
years old. The level of preservation was 
remarkable; in some of the highly magni- 
fied pictures I could see the creatures' tiny 
hairs and even the impressions of individ- 
ual epidermal cells on the outer cuticle, or 
exoskeleton, they had secreted. The fossils 
had been discovered nearly ten years ear- 
lier by two paleobotanists, Patricia 
Bonamo and Doug Grierson. Specialists 
in the study of Middle Devonian plants, 
they worked in Binghamton, virtually in 
the center of some of the most extensive 
Devonian continental rock exposures in 
the world. When lens-shaped layers of 
black shale containing plant remains ap- 
peared during the excavation for a pumped 
storage project near the villages of 
Blenheim and Gilboa, Doug and Patricia 
were invited to collect material for study. 
The truckload of black shale from Gilboa 
that they took back to their lab proved to 
be rich in beautifully preserved plants of 
several species. 

One of the techniques for extracting 
material for paleobotanical study sounds 
quite drastic: immersing fossil-bearing 
rocks in hydrofluoric acid (HF). HF has 
the interesting property of being able to 
dissolve silicates, including glass, which is 
why it is always kept in plastic bottles. As 
the rock is eaten away, the fossil material, 
not affected by HF, is left behind. On ex- 
amining one treated sample, Doug Grier- 
son spotted a tiny, flattened, spiderlike 
creature with its legs still stuck in the rock. 
This whole animal and other, mostly frag- 
mentary ones were recovered and 
mounted on microscope slides. As the pro- 
ject continued, more animal specimens ac- 
cumulated and were duly mounted. Doug 
and Patricia were eager to find a paleozo- 
ologist to work with them in studying 
these remains, but most specialists were 
skeptical of the extraordinarily preserved 
but fragmentary fossils. 

Paleobotanical labs take extreme pre- 
cautions to prevent contamination of their 
samples with contemporary pollen, 
spores, and plant fragments found in dust. 

48 Natural History 3/93 

Despite this, scoifers contended that the 
animal bits had fallen out of the light fix- 
tures or from cracks in the walls. But a 
good look at the pictures, as well as the 
story of the original discovery, convinced 
me that this could not be the case. One fos- 
sil, a set of centipede jaws, resembled 
some I had seen that were unique to a spe- 
cies found today only in Tasmania and 
New Zealand, and the spidery creature 
that Doug had found with its legs still in 
the rock turned out to be a representative 
of a group of arachnids that had been ex- 
tinct for about 280 million years. 

My excitement about the fossils, and 
my extensive background in living soil 

arthropods, convinced Patricia and Doug 
to let me collaborate with them. Later, we 
organized an international team of special- 
ists with unique combinations of expertise 
to work together on these animals. Out of 
these studies has come some of the evi- 
dence we need to reconstruct the way of 
life of tiny soil animals that lived 370 mil- 
lion years ago. My own research has 
moved outward to encompass the earliest 
known terrestrial ecosystems, an exciting 
field of paleontological work that is chang- 
ing how we think life came to land. 

We were able to extract many more fos- 
sils from the Gilboa rock and begin piec- 
ing together the bodies of animals, a proc- 

Hairs and claws are visible on a tiny, primitive mite from Gilboa. 

Photographs by William A. Shear 

ess not unlike doing a jigsaw puzzle with- 
out the picture on the box. WTiile we could 
be guided in some cases b}' the living rela- 
tives of our ancient arthropods, some of 
the fossils have proved to be unlike an_\- 
creatures we now know. Reconstructing 
ancient animals, such as the ones in the 
opening scenario, requires extensive and 
detailed knowledge of the significance of 
particular adaptations and the distribution 
of those adaptations among evolutionarv' 

The ancestr}' of spiders, for example, is 
a mysten'. The first definiti\e fossil spi- 
ders are found long after the close of the 
Devonian, in the Late Carboniferous. 

about 290 million }ears ago. But the exact 
identit}' of e\^en these fossils is dubious be- 
cause most of them lack the characteristic 
adaptations of spiders, especialh' poison 
fangs and spinnerets, the small, modified 
abdominal appendages that carr)' the out- 
lets, or spigots, of the silk glands. Imagine 
my surprise, therefore, when a box of 
Gilboa fossils mounted on microscope 
slides contained one specimen bearing a 
beautifulh' preserv^ed, isolated spinneret. 
This fragment is the earliest unequivocal 
e\'idence of spiders in the fossil record. I 
contacted two colleagues who had been 
working intensively on the structure and 
function of spider spinnerets: Jackie 

Nicknamed the Angi-y Dragon, a fossil pseudoscorpion used its ja^w 
for self-grooming and to secure and tear apart its prey. 

A 405 -million-year-old tiigonotarbid from Scotland's Rhynie Chert 
has book lungs, e\'idence that it lived on land. 

Palmer, of Westem Carolina University, 
and Jon Coddington. of the Smithsonian. 
We determined that this spinneret could 
not have come from an\' group of spiders 
alive today. The overall appearance of the 
appendage was vaguely similar to that 
found in the group of living spiders that in- 
cludes trapdoor spiders and taranmlas; and 
the spigots closely resembled those of a 
much more primiti\e line, the mesotheles, 
restricted today to the Asian tropics but 
probabh found worldwide in ancient coal 
swamps. The spinneret also bore a charac- 
teristic cuticular pattem that allowed fossU 
spider expert Paul Selden. of Manchester 
University in England, to relate it to 
dozens of other enigmatic fragments. Paul 
and I were able to reconstruct a whole leg. 
locate jav\s and poisonous fangs, and put 
forward hypotheses about how the whole 
animal (named Attercopus. from the 
Anglo-Saxon word attercop. or "poison 
spider") ma)- have lived. For example, 
spinnerets with man_\ uniform spigots on 
one side are often found on spiders that 
live today in silk-lined burrows, so that 
habit is suggested for our fossil animal as 
well. Now that we can recognize bits of 
Attercopus. we expect to be able to recon- 
struct more of it from additional fossil 
fragments and speculate further about its 
w ay of life. 

Pat Bonamo discovered one of the 
smallest fossils from the Gilboa trove, a 
creature that earned the lab nickname 
■■.^ngr}- Dragon" because it looked hke a 
rampant dragon with open jaws. My work 
with soil animals allow ed me to recognize 
it as a false scorpion, a group of abundant 
and important soil-dw elling predators that 
look like minute scorpions without sting- 
ers. As with .Attercopus. this fossil mmed 
out to be the oldest known example of its 
kind, fully 300 million years older than 
any previously described. Because of its 
appearance, we have gi\en it the scientific 
name Dracochela, ""dragon pincer." 
Working this time with Wolfgang Scha- 
waller of the Stuttgart Museum, in Ger- 
many, who has studied more fossil false 
scorpions than anyone else, we came up 
with a remarkabh' detailed reconstruction. 
False scorpions have jaws that are the 
Swiss army knives of the animal world, 
tiny but highh' varied tool kits serving 
many functions. For example, the jaws 
earn.' special sensors' setae, a silk-emitting 
spinneret, teeth for securing and tearing up 
prey, and a special set of combs used to 
clean the other appendages. M these tools 
were \'isible on our fossil, thanks to the ex- 
ceptionally fine preser\'arion. The big pin- 


cers of Dracochela were studded with 
sensory hairs called trichobothria, which 
can work only in air, telling us that these 
were fully terrestrial animals. 

So far, I have mentioned only creatures 
from our fossil collections that closely re- 
semble other animals still living. What can 
be done with fossils of groups long ex- 
tinct? Perhaps the most abundant animals 
at Gilboa, and at other sites for early ter- 
restrial animals, are the trigonotarbids, or 
"trigs" for short. Trigs are evidently re- 
lated to spiders. Their bodies have two 
basic divisions, cephalothorax and ab- 
domen, as well as six sets of ap- 
pendages — jaws, leglike palps, and four 
pairs of walking legs. But unlike those of 
spiders, trig abdomens are covered by a 
characteristic series of armor plates and 
bear no silk-producing organs. We have 
found no evidence (we've looked hard) of 
poison fangs, and instead of the simple 
eyes of spiders, trigs have eyes with as 
many as ten or twelve loosely packed 
lenses, an evolutionary reduction from 
what we think were originally large com- 
pound eyes with many tightly packed 
facets. Trigs first appeared in the Silurian 
period, about 415 million years ago, and 
seem to have died out near the end of the 
Carboniferous period, about 285 million 
years ago. What does their structure tell us 
about how they lived? 

Clues came from another Devonian 
site, the 405-million-year-old Rhynie 
Chert, in Scotland, where trigs have been 
found clustered in the empty spore cases 
of some of the fossilized plants. This led 
one group of paleontologists to speculate 
that trigs ate spores. Yet no living spore- 
eating animals have robust jaws with long, 
strong fangs opposing triangular basal 
teeth and fitted with brushes of setae used 
to filter liquid food. All these adaptations, 
found in trigs, are characteristic of animals 
that capture active prey and digest it by re- 
gurgitating enzymes that dissolve the vic- 
tim's tissue. The predators then suck up 
the resultant liquid, filtering it through the 
setae. We found further evidence in the 
muscle attachment points on the 
cephalothorax of one of our Gilboa trig 
species; such muscles might have served 
to operate the sucking pump. Among oui- 
fossils are some wadded masses of arthro- 
pod cuticle that are very much like the re- 
mains of spider meals, specifically of 
those spiders with strong jaws for chewing 
up their prey, presoftened by the spit-up 
enzymes. Openings on the undersides of 
our specimens resembled the spiracles, or 
breathing pores, of living arachnids. This 

helped confirm another feature of the 
Rhynie Chert fossils: book lungs, the char- 
acteristic air-breathing organs of spiders 
and their relatives. This provided more ev- 
idence that both the Rhynie and Gilboa an- 
imals were fully terrestrial. 

We also noted that the first few abdom- 
inal segments of our trigs were fused and 
had a heavy transverse ridge. Coupling 
our information with some that Paul and 
his student Jason Dunlop had gleaned 
from Rhynie trigs, we reasoned that the 
vulnerable junction between the cephalo- 
thorax and abdomen of a trig could have 
been protected by locking the abdominal 
ridge under the rear margin of the cara- 
pace, the upper cover of the cepha- 
lothorax. This suggests that trigs had 
something to fear, perhaps Attercopus or 
one another. 

We have also found many specimens of 
tiny, delicate, multilegged animals that so 
far have proved very difficult to catego- 
rize. We think they may be the precursors 
of a group of gigantic millipedelike arthro- 
pods, the arthropleurids, which grew to 
more than six feet in length, thrived in the 
Carboniferous' coal swamps, and died out 
at the end of that period. But our little crea- 
tures are at most a quarter of an inch long. 
We have established that they have ten 
body segments behind their heads, but we 
still do not know the number of legs. The 
heads themselves are difficult to under- 
stand; instead of antennae they may have 
had a bizarre, trumpetlike organ on each 
side that protruded through notches on the 
right and left edges of the first segment be- 
hind the head. Fossil myriapod expert 

John Almond, then of Cambridge Univer- 
sity in England, realized that there were 
two distinctive kinds of posterior ends in 
our fossils. Perhaps this is evidence of two 
species or of males and females of the 
same species. More work will be required 
to understand these creatures, which are 
unlike anything alive today. 

While the Gilboa site provides the earli- 
est evidence of some of the major groups 
of land animals, the earliest land-living 
creatures have recently been discovered at 
Ludford Lane, in Wales, by Andrew 
Jeram, Paul Selden, and colleagues. Using 
the same technique — HF digestion of 
rocks — and again using well-preserved 
plant fossils as guides, they have uncov- 
ered 415-million-year-old trigs that are 
very similar to those found at Rhynie and 
Gilboa, as well as enigmatic fragments of 
other animals yet to be identified. Very 
primitive land plants called Cooksonia are 
found with these animals and may have 
created an environment that looked like 
living Astroturf. The discovery of well- 
adapted terrestrial animals at this great age 
suggests that applying the same methods 
to older rocks will push the age of land an- 
imals back in time even further, perhaps 
eventually leading to fossils of the transi- 
tional stages when terrestrial invasion first 
took place. 

Our optimism is justified by discoveries 
made by University of Oregon paleo- 
botanist Jane Gray in Ordovician sedi- 
ments about 468 million years old. Using 
HF to dissolve rocks, she has found fossil 
spores, which, for a number of reasons, 
likely came from land plants. If plants 

The fossil spider Attercopus may have lined its burrow with silk 
produced by hairlike spigots on its spinneret, above. Attercopus 
may have resembled the modern spider at right. 

50 Natural History 3/93 

were on land so long ago. could animals 
have been far behind? Jane Gray's discov- 
eries tell us that the tiny Cooksonia. which 
accompanies the trig fossils of Ludford 
Lane, may not have been the first land 

In the past, we have tended to interpret 
ancient ecosystems in terms of modem 
ones. The traditional picture of the de%'el- 
opment of life on land has followed this 
pattem: First vascular plants invaded the 
land. foUowed at some later time b\" herbi- 
vores, or plant-eating animals, and then 
even later by predator species. But the 
communities at Ludford Lane. Rh\nie. 
and GDboa, spanning nearly 100 million 
years, are dominated by predators and de- 
tritivores. animals that eat dead plant mat- 
ter. Aside from some enigmatic wounds in 
Rhynie plants that might have been caused 
by volcanic cinders or by some other sort 
of mechanical injun,-. we have no evidence 
of animals eating living plants until her- 
bivorous insects first appeared in the mid- 
dle of the Carboniferous period, nearly 50 
million years after Gilboa. 

Richard Beerbower. of the State Uni- 

versit}- of New York at Binghamton. has 
suggested that in Paleozoic terrestrial 
ecosystems, nearly all potential food from 
plants had to be at least parth' decayed and 
broken down by detritivores before be- 
coming a\ailable to larger animals. He 
calls this the "fitter box" h\pothesis. Per- 
haps the eating of living vascular plants 
was a habit that took eons to de\'elop. One 
deterrent ma\' ha\e been the formidable 
arra>' of toxins and antifeeding chemicals 
\ascular plants contain. These chemicals 
probabh' did not appear originaU)' as a re- 
sponse to predation but as natural b\prod- 
ucts of the s\Tithesis of fignin. a compoimd 
almost exclusive to vascular plants, and 
which provides their extraordinarv' struc- 
tural strength. E\ en when herbivorous in- 
sects first appeared, their diet seems 
mostly to ha\e consisted of spores, seed 
contents, and plant juices, rather than 
chemicalh' defended leaves. 

Of course, an altemative is that the few^ 
sites we have explored, scattered sparsely 
through time, sample onl)' soil and litter 
communities, which e\en toda\' are domi- 
nated by predatory and detritivorous 

arthropods. Perhaps we do not know what 
was going on abo\'e the soil, among the 
fi\'ing plants. Certainl}- the appearance of 
large, winged insects in the Middle Car- 
boniferous is deceptively sudden. WTiere 
w ere their ancestors? We have a great deal 
yet to learn. 

We are fairly certain. howe\er. that 
complex communities of plants and ani- 
mals \\ ere established on land long before 
our own venebrate ancestors emerged 
from the ponds and streams late in the De- 
vonian. But e\"idence for \ertebrates eat- 
ing \egetation appears onl\- near the very 
end of the Carboniferous, some 50 million 
years after their apparent emergence on 
land. Before that, all land \ertebrates ap- 
pear to ha\e been predators. especiall\" on 
insects. The same ston.'. a long transition 
to true herbivon. . could have been the case 
with earl}- land arthropods as well. 

As we find more fossils to test this and 
other hypotheses about how early land 
ecos\'stems were organized. I think we 
will discover not similarities, but striking 
differences between them and our present 
plant and animal communities. Z 



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The gate of the old Jewish cemeten in 
Charlotte AmaUe, Saint Thomas, hears 
the common Hebrew inscription House of 
the Living. 

Beth Hatefutsoth Photo Archive, courtesy 
of Mofdechai Arbell. Israel 


Sephardic Jews were an important link between 
Europe and colonial America 

by Samuel M. Wilson 

Last summer I was on Nevis for Cul- 
turama, that small West Indian island's 
celebration of its culture. The capital, 
Charlestown, overflowed with people, 
who crowded around makeshift booths on 
the waterfront to buy drinks and such local 
delicacies as "goatwater" (a spicy stew of 
goat meat and breadfruit) and "salt fish" (a 
stewed concoction made from dried, 
salted cod — a rather improbable historical 
holdover of colonial English cuisine in a 
region where fresh fish is always avail- 
able). The occasion also featured horse 
and donkey races, the Culturama Queen 
competition, a contest for calypso singers 
from all over the island, and a great deal of 
music and dancing. 

Culturama is an enthusiastic celebration 
of African American cultural continuity 
and survival despite centuries of oppres- 
sion. A few blocks away from the crush of 
people at the booths, a more tranquil scene 
commemorates a similar lesson in sur- 
vival. Sun'ounded by a stone wall, the 
Jews" Burying Ground leaves a gap the 
size of a couple of house lots in the middle 
of the bustling town. Although more than 
300 years old, it is neatly tended, thanks to 
the efforts of the Nevisian government and 
writer Robert Abrahams, who divides his 
time between Philadelphia and Nevis. 

The twenty or so graves that remain are 
stone boxes covered by massive stone 
slabs. Most have a few pebbles and coins 
on top, put there according to local custom 
so that the dead will rest in their places and 
not roam about at night. Placing pebbles 
on graves is also a Jewish tradition, to 
show that a grave has been visited re- 

cently, but just who adorned these graves 
is not apparent. Many of the lids are elab- 
orately carved with inscriptions in a com- 
bination of Hebrew, English, and Ladino 
(a language that combines Spanish, Por- 
tuguese, and Hebrew elements). Ladino 
was, and in some parts of the world still is, 
spoken by the Jews from Spain and Portu- 
gal — the Sephardim — who were exiled 
from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492. The 
dates on the graves range from the 1680s 
to the mid- 1700s, but the Jewish commu- 
nity existed on Nevis before and well after 
that time span. 

The standard view of Nevis's history is 
that the island was colonized by members 
of wealthy English families who exploited 
slave labor for sugar production. The 
names on these tombstones, however, 
show this view to be incomplete. Jacob 
Alvarez, Abraham Isquiao David Gomes, 
Daniel Cohen, Abraham Bueno de Mez- 
queto, Solomon Israel, and several mem- 
bers of the Pinheiro family are buried 
there. (Isaac Pinheiro 's tombstone is also 
there, but, truth to tell, despite his fervent 
wish to be buried on Nevis, his body actu- 
ally lies in the Chatham Square cemetery 
of the congregation of Sherith Israel in 
New York City.) All were members of a 
thriving Jewish community that existed 
throughout the Caribbean at that time. 

The most elegant grave in the cemetery 
is that of Bathsheba Abudiente, who died 
in childbirth on August 8, 1684. The He- 
brew inscription on her tombstone gives 
her husband's name as Rohiel Abudiente, 
but a second inscription in English shows 
that he also went by the name of Rowland 

Gideon. An old frangipani, or "temple 
tree," with deep pink flowers leans over 
the slab. The Hebrew inscription reads: 

This heap be witness and the pillar be wit- 
ness that in its womb rests the modest 
woman, a woman of valor, crown of her hus- 
band, Mrs. Bathsheba, wife of Mr. Rohiel 
Abudiente, whose spirit was returned to 
God after she had borne a son buried next to 
her, on Tuesday, the 28th day of the month 
of Ab in the year 5444. For she did what 
was right in the eyes of the Lord. May her 
soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life. 

Many of the other graves in the ceme- 
tery have not withstood the years quite so 

54 Natural History 3/93 







well. In some cases all that remains is a 
fragment of a tomb lid leaning against an- 
other grave, perhaps showing part of a 
name or a few Hebrew letters. 

A dirt path still called the Jews' Walk 
leads south from the cemetery to a nonde- 
script square building full of fifty-five-gal- 
lon oil drums, bathtubs, galvanized conu- 
gated roofing, scrap lumber, and other 
things too useful ever to throw away on a 
small Caribbean island. The stone facing 
is of fairly recent construction, but the 
stonework inside is old and finely worked, 
with carved columns supporting a vaulted 
ceiling (the original exterior stones were 

probably taken for use elsewhere). This 
building has recently been identified as 
part of the old synagogue. 

Possibly this building adjoined the 
main chamber of the synagogue, whose 
location may be marked by the adjacent 
pile of rubble. It may also have been the 
building known as the Jews" School, 
where, along with many others, the young 
Alexander Hamilton received his earliest 
education. Bom on Nevis in 1755, the fu- 
ture first secretary of the United States 
treasury was the son of James Hamilton, a 
young and recently bankrupt Scot, and 
Rachael Faucitt Lavien, a woman fleeins 

an unhappy but undissolved mairiage on 
Saint Croix. Because Rachael was not 
lawfully free to remarry, their children 
were considered illegitimate by the Angli- 
can church and refused admittance to the 
Anglican school. So Alexander learned to 
read and write and to recite the Decalogue 
in Hebrew as a pupil of the Jews' School. 
The Hamilton Museum in Charlestown is 
undertaking the building's restoration, as 
funds permit. 

Other Caribbean islands have monu- 
ments to substantial Jewish communities 
that existed from the early years of Euro- 
pean colonization. The Mikve Israel syr.a- 

Samuel M, Wilson 

56 Natural History 3/93 

The grave ofBathsheba Abudiente, left, lies in the Jews' Biiiying 
Ground in Charlestown, on the island of Nevis. A member of the 
sizable Jewish community that existed in the Caribbean fivm the 
seventeenth centwy onward, she died in childbirth on August 8, 
1684. Below: Miss Culturama is crowned as part of Nevis' s week- 
long celebration of its Afiican American heritage. 

Errol Pemberlon; EC P Photographies 

gogue on Cura9ao, built in 1702, is the 
oldest synagogue in continuous use in the 
Americas. According to records from 
1715, Jews constituted the majority of Cu- 
rasao's white population. On Barbados the 
synagogue of Kaal Kadosh Nidhe Israel, 
built in 1654 and for a long time unused, 
was recently spared from demolition and 
has been restored. Jamaica was settled by 
Europeans in the first wave of Spanish col- 
onization after Columbus's voyages, and 
the island was the home of the earliest 
Jewish community in the New World. 
Like many such communities, it was made 
up of Jews who had been expelled from 
Spain and Portugal in the late 1400s. Oth- 
ers fled the Iberian Peninsula in the six- 
teenth and seventeenth centuries, as the 
Spanish Inquisition attempted to identify 
Jews who had outwardly converted to 
Christianity but who secretly maintained 
Jewish traditions. When the English cap- 
tured Jamaica from Spain in 1655, the 
Jews joined with the English in exchange 
for religious tolerance. They were granted 
British citizenship (something which Jews 
living in England at the time did not have) 
and founded a synagogue that very year. 

Nevis, although a small island, played 
more than a minor role in the history of the 

Caribbean. In the mid- 1600s the survival 
of the North American colonies was not 
certain, given the strength of Native 
American resistance. New York City was 
Dutch New Amsterdam from its founding 
in 1624 until 1664. The colonies in the 
Massachusetts Bay area, especially those 
founded by religious exiles, were not part 
of the British government's overall colo- 
nial strategy and, in any case, were not 
very substantial in the seventeenth cen- 
tury. Nor were they as profitable as Nevis 
and other Caribbean colonies. The Carib- 
bean colonies were the British foothold in 
the Americas before the Chesapeake Bay 
colonies became profitable, and they con- 
tinued as strongholds after the American 

In the seventeenth and eighteenth cen- 
turies, Jews played a large part in the econ- 
omy of the Caribbean. Wills, journals, and 
other documents compiled by the Ameri- 
can Jewish Historical Society and the Jew- 
ish Historical Society of England demon- 
strate that the Jewish community of Nevis 
had far-reaching associations with Europe 
and other European colonies in the New 
World. Those buried in the cemetery on 
Nevis, many of whom had lived abroad, 
had had family and business contacts in 

Lisbon, London, Amsterdam, Calcutta, 
Brazil, Curasao, Barbados, Jamaica, Vir- 
ginia, New York, and Boston. Often these 
associations were the business links that 
made Nevis so profitable. 

The Atlantic trade in sugar, tobacco, in- 
digo, food, goods, and people was com- 
plex, involving exchanges in a half-dozen 
shifting currencies between markets 
throughout Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, 
and the eastern seaboard of North Amer- 
ica. Excluded (at least officially) from 
Spain and Portugal, and discriminated 
against in much of the rest of Europe, Eu- 
ropean Jews of the seventeenth and eight- 
eenth centuries found a haven in the Car- 
ibbean, where they became traders, 
shopkeepers, and planters. 

The Caribbean was not free of religious 
intolerance and persecution, however. 
Nevisian Jews, like most in the Caribbean, 
were subject to special taxes and prohibi- 
tions, and their relations with other groups 
on the island were often strained. In 1724 
the Episcopal minister Robert Robertson 
wrote to the bishop in London that on 
Nevis there were 

about 70 householders with their families, 
being in all (children included) some 300 
whites where of one-fourth are Jews, who 
have a synagogue here and are very accept- 
able to the country part of the island, but far 
from being so in the town, by whom they are 
charged with taking the bread out of Christ- 
ian mouths. And this, with the encourage- 
ment said to be given to the Transient 
Traders, above what is given to the Settlers, 
is by many thought to be the trae cause of 
the strange decay of this place — At present 
there is not above 3 or 4 Christian Families 
of note in my Parish (Publications of the 
American Jewish Historical Society 
XX: 160). 

The Jews of Nevis in the seventeenth 
and eighteenth centuries also owned 
slaves of African descent. Many whites of 
even modest means did at that time in both 
the Caribbean colonies and in North 
America. Wills in Nevis contain bequests 
of slaves, and a 1707 census lists five Jew- 
ish heads of households who aU together 
owned forty-three slaves. 

About Bathsheba Abudiente, the 
woman with the elegant gravestone, little 
is known except that she died in childbirth, 
preceding her husband in death by thirty- 
eight years. Much more is known about 
her husband, Rohiel Abudiente or Row- 
land Gideon. His maternal grandfather 
was Paul de Pina, of Lisbon, whose family 
lived outwardly as converts to Christian- 
ity. Paul traveled from Lisbon to Rome in 
1599, supposedly to become a Christian 
monk, but instead he became more openly 
Jewish. He went to Brazil, where there 
was more religious tolerance than in Por- 
tugal, and then to Amsterdam, the city 
where European Jews enjoyed the greatest 
acceptance. In Amsterdam, Paul joined 
the synagogue under his Jewish name, 
Reuel Jessuram. He was married and had a 
daughter, Sarah Jessuram. Sarah in time 
married Moses Abudiente, a member of 
another of Lisbon's respected Jewish fam- 
ilies. Their son. Rehiel (Rohiel) Abudi- 
ente, was bom about 1650. 

Rohiel's early life is not well docu- 
mented, but by piecing together scraps of 
official records, we may surmise that he 
had connections and relatives in several 
parts of the New World. In 1674, he was 
listed under his anglicized name, Rowland 
Gideon, as "Ye Jew" on Boston's first tax 
roster. Subsequently he moved to Barba- 
dos, possibly because Jews there were 
more readily granted the status of perma- 
nent resident in the British Empire. In 
1679 Rowland Gideon received such a let- 
ter of "denization," which allowed him to 
reside in any English colony. That year he 
moved to Nevis and probably married 
Bathsheba soon after. He stayed there at 
least until Bathsheba 's death in 1684. 

Sometime thereafter he moved to Lon- 
don, where in 1694 he married Esther do 
Porto, a woman of Portuguese ancestry 
and a member of a powerful Jewish family 
in London. In 1699 they had a son they 
named Sampson (or Samson). In 1701 
Rowland Gideon was listed as the reader 
of the Torah in the Bevis Marks syna- 
gogue in London, and the next year he be- 
came its treasurer. He appears in official 

Beyond a Jewish cemetery on Ciiragao, below, looms the Shell Oil 
refinery. Many Jews came to the island after the Dutch took control 
fivm the Spaniards in 1634 and granted religious fi'eedom to the 
inhabitants. Opposite page: Dating fivm the eighteenth centuiy, the 
Honen Dalim Synagogue on Sint Eustatius was built by a 
congregation whose trading ties extended to North and South 
America Europe, Afiica, and Asia 

Porterf eld Ch cker ng Photo Researchers 

/ i ' 

documents a few years later representing 
the Nevis planters in claims for compensa- 
tion for the French sacking of Nevis in 
1709. These proceedings show that Row- 
land Gideon still held property on Nevis. 
In 1722 he died and was buried in Lon- 
don's old Jewish cemetery. Bet Hayim. 

Rowland Gideon left a considerable 
fortune to his son, Sampson, who became 
one of the most powerful money brokers 
in the British Empire. In 1745, during a 
period of economic chaos, Sampson ar- 
ranged a loan of £1,700,000 to the British 
Crown, and in 1749 he organized a consol- 
idation of the national debt, which reduced 
its rate of interest. With his close contacts 
in government, he worked successfully, al- 
beit at great personal cost and against 
vengeful opposition, to help pass the Jews' 
Naturalization Act of 1753, which abol- 
ished special the taxes and penalties on 
British Jews. 

Sampson Gideon mairied Jane Emiell, 
who was from an aristocratic Christian 
family, and their children were raised in 
her faith. Sampson withdrew from the 
synagogue but continued to pay his dues 
anonymously until his death in 1762. In 
his will he left £1,000 to the Spanish and 
Portuguese Jewish community in London, 
on the condition that he be buried as a Jew 

in the Jews' cemetery; at the end of his 
will he commended his soul "to the gra- 
cious and merciful God of Israel." He was 
buried near his father, Rowland Gideon, in 
Bet Hayim. 

As for the Jewish community on Nevis, 
its numbers began to diminish in the late 
eighteenth century as Nevis's economic 
fortunes declined. Some members moved 
back to Europe, and more moved to the 
newly formed United States. None of the 
original Sephardic families lives on the is- 
land today. 

But in the twentieth century, another 
migration of European Jews came to the 
Caribbean. Just as the expulsion of Jews 
from Portugal and Spain in 1492 forced 
the emigration of Sephardic Jews in the 
sixteenth century, the rise of fascism 
forced Ashkenazic Jews to flee from many 
parts of Europe in the years preceding 
World War II. Jewish immigration to the 
United States was severely restricted in 
the 1920s and 1930s, so many made their 
way to the Caribbean islands, where visas 
could be obtained. They settled in Ja- 
maica, Barbados, Curagao, the Dominican 
Republic, and elsewhere in the region. 
And there they found Jewish communi- 
ties, synagogues, and cemeteries that had 
existed for more than three centuries. D 

58 Natural History 3/93 

lL>i V: 



..^^^ft. '^^ 

Fiords Down Under 

In New Zealand's flooded glacial valleys, forests of deep-sea black coral 
thrive in shallow waters 

by Ken Grange and Walter Goldberg 

Something was different wlien we 
awoke onboard our research ship in 
Doubtful Sound, one of the fourteen fiords 
that penetrate the Southern Alps of New 
Zealand like fingers from the Tasman Sea. 
Even before we struggled out of our sleep- 
ing bags and up the companionway to the 
main cabin we could tell that this morning 
was unusual. The warm wind that had 
been blowing off the ocean from the west 
had changed, dropping the air temperature 
to a chilly 54° F. The weather was just as 
calm and peaceful as on the previous gray 
days, but today was brighter. A large 
beech tree perched precariously on the 
cliff above served as our mooring. Check- 
ing the lines that hung limply down from 

the beech, we noticed the perfect reflec- 
tion of the snowcapped mountains in the 
glassy-smooth water. Only then did we re- 
alize that for the first time in more than a 
week it had stopped raining. 

Fiordland, the remote, uninhabited 
southwest comer of South Island, is New 
Zealand's largest national park and one of 
the wettest places on earth. Fiordland lies 
in the path of winds that blow west across 
the Tasman Sea. When it reaches the 
mountainous coast, the moisture-laden air 
rises and cools, causing the moisture to 
condense. The resultant rainfall is prodi- 
gious, averaging twenty-three feet a year. 
Rain falls almost every day, often in 
amounts of ten inches or more. 

A rare shaft of sunlight pierces the clouds over Bradshaw Sound, 
above, one of fourteen fiords on the west coast of South Island. 
After a heavy rainstorm, right, water cascades down a cliff into 
Milford Sound. The sheer rock walls and wateifalls are typical of 
the fiords, which were carved by glaciers. 

Darryl Torckler 

60 Natural History 3/93 

The sunshine brought out the biting 
black sand flies, which descended on our 
bare backs and legs as soon as we stepped 
out onto the deck. The mottled green rain 
forest extended almost vertically from the 
water's edge up to the snow line at 3,000 
feet. The tallest mountain peak, rising a 
mile straight up from the sea, looked close 
enough to touch in the clear air. The fiords 
are well known for their spectacular 
scenery and hiking trails, but we were 
drawn to them by the unusual marine life 
discovered here only a decade ago. Al- 
though we were ten miles from the open 
ocean, the 1,000-foot-deep water directly 
below us harbored schools of marine fish 
and a resident pod of bottlenose dolphins. 
Steep underwater cliffs supported rare and 
unknown species, including many usually 
found only at much greater depths in the 
ocean. One of these, the black coral, has 
been the focus of our research. Black coral 
usually inhabits deep water, but because of 
the special conditions in the fiords, enor- 
mous colonies of the coral sprout from the 
underwater cliffs at relatively shallow 
depths, making them accessible to divers. 

The heavy rainfall turns the mountains 
into myriad waterfalls and streams. The 
runoff is sufficient to form a nearly perma- 
nent layer of fresh water some ten to 
twelve feet thick that lies over the seawater 
of the fiord. Only rarely do the rains let up 
enough for this layer to shrink to a few 
feet. The layer of fresh water persists be- 
cause it is less dense than seawater and 
does not mix with it because large waves 
cannot form in these naiTow, protected 

The rainwater picks up almost no silt or 
mud during its passage through the virgin 
forest of the park and over the hard gran- 
ite. Instead, as it percolates downward 


7 0s>p^' 


through the forest, it leaches dead leaves 
and twigs and becomes stained yellow- 
brown with tannin and humic acid. When 
it reaches the fiord, the fresh water is col- 
ored but not cloudy. It resembles lager 
beer or tea and obscures everything a foot 
or more from a diver's face. 

The surface layer of fresh water acts as 
a colored lens, allowing only a weak yel- 
low-green light to filter through to the ma- 
rine realm below. The quantity and quality 
of the light passing through the upper 
layer is therefore generally unsuited for 
photosynthesis. The typical forests of sea- 
weeds found on most temperate shores do 
not exist here. This allows species nor- 

mally restricted to dark caves or deep 
water to flourish on the dimly lit, steep, 
subtidal rock faces of the fiords. 

At breakfast, we plan the first dive of 
the day. We had been working in teams, 
diving every three hours throughout the 
night to watch for spawning activity in our 
black coral colonies. Because of this tight 
schedule and a concern for safety, we con- 
sulted dive tables and electronic dive com- 
puters before planning this moming's de- 
scent. We are, after all, several hours from 
the nearest recompression chamber, even 
by helicopter. Although the sun is bright 
and underwater visibility below the fresh- 
water layer will be sixty to eighty feet, we 

will still need our lights. The incredible 
water clarity is accompanied by perpetual 
gloom. We will dive under the vessel to a 
depth of 160 feet. The dive will be simple: 
over the side and straight down; past the 
spawning black coral at forty feet to the 
maximum depth; collect and photograph 
new species of soft coral, sea slugs, and 
feather stars; then slowly ascend past the 
walls of brachiopods and the twelve-foot- 
tall black coral colonies with their symbi- 
otic snake stars and perching feather stars; 
and finally back through the freshwater 
layer to the surface. 

After performing predive buddy checks 
and grabbing cameras, collecting bags and 

62 Natural History 3/93 

underwater lights, we brace ourselves for 
hitting the water. The surface layer not 
only will have poor visibility, it will also 
be several degrees colder than the seawa- 
ter below, since it includes snowmelt. Cu- 
riously enough, the rain during the past 
week has not increased the depth of the 
fresh water; the layer flows like a river 
atop the seawater until it reaches the 
mouth of the fiord and gradually mixes 
with the waters of the Tasman Sea. At a 
depth of twelve feet, we pass through the 
shimmering interface between fresh and 
salt water and break into crystal clear, rel- 
atively warm seawater. The steep rock 
face descends into the blackness below. 

A jock steward fish in Bradshaw Sound, left. A leatherjacket, 
below, feasts on the eggs of spawning black corals. When 
spawning, the polyps on the branches, which are normally small 
and white, swell and turn salmon pink. 

Roger V, Grace; Hedgehog House 

On the descent, we pause briefly on a 
small ledge at forty feet to inspect a female 
black coral colony. The small, normally 
white polyps on the coral's branches have 
become swollen and turned salmon pink, 
indicating that this colony is ready to 
spawn. No one has ever reported on the re- 
production of black coral, so with hopes of 
catching them in the act, we suspend a 
plankton net over the colony to collect 
spawned eggs or larvae. For a week, we 
have been checking the funnellike net and 
its collection jar, and we discovered that 
both eggs and larvae are released at dusk 
and dawn about the time of the full moon. 
One thing we have not found, however, is 
male coral polyps. Despite microscopic 
examination of hundreds of polyps from 
colonies all over the fiords we have not 
found a single male. We could have 
missed them, but it is also possible that the 
female polyps were reproducing by par- 
thenogenesis, that is. producing viable 
eggs without male fertilization. 

On this morning the jar and net are 
empty, so we glide over the ledge and de- 
scend along the nearly vertical face. Sil- 
houettes of large black coral colonies ap- 

pear ghostly white against a serene back- 
drop of emerald green provided by the fil- 
tered sunshine. We leave our lights off for 
as long as possible, so that in the gloom we 
can see the faint flickering of 

At 130 feet, a cleft about thirty feet 
wide in the rock face has filled with sand 
and shell gravel. Protruding from this soft 
bottom is a field of gently swaying and 
twisting sea pens, each about eighteen 
inches tall. A gentle stroke causes each 
eight-armed polyp to emit a brief burst of 
blue bioluminescence, momentarily turn- 
ing the sea pen into a miniature Christmas 
tree in the very dim light. The rock face 
once again slopes steeply away below the 
sand slope, past unknown habitats until it 
reaches the muddy floor of the fiord al- 
most 1,000 feet below us. Only one brief 
submersible dive with the crew of the Ca- 
lypso and a few remotely operated vehicle 
observations have provided any inforaia- 
tion on the rock walls below normal 
depths for scuba diving. 

We level off at 160 feet and cruise 
slowly along a relatively barren rock face. 
The dominant animals are yellow gorgon- 

At a depth of sixty feet, a community of invertebrate animals 
flourishes on a rock shelf in Doubtful Sound. 

Ken Grange; Hedgehog House 

ian fans, clumps of white compound as- 
cidians, large solitary corals, and sea 
perch. One light illuminates a translucent, 
white soft coral colony, standing about a 
foot tall and shaped like a cauliflower. This 
is an unknown species, so we photograph 
the colony and carefully collect it for de- 
scription by specialists. Another light falls 
on a bowl-shaped, yellow sponge with a 
flat sievelike top. With our brains slightly 
affected by nitrogen narcosis, we struggle 
to identify it. Gradually we realize this is a 
glass sponge, previously recorded only 
from depths of more than 300 feet on the 
continental shelf — yet another deepwater 
species that finds a safe haven in these 

As we begin to ascend, we find small 
patches of sand that almost invariably sup- 
port large tube-building anemones. The 
long tentacles stretch lazily out into the 
gentle current, and often one rapidly coils 
and spirals downward toward the mouth 
after ensnaring small planktonic shrimp. 
Back up at sixty feet we search for a side- 
gilled sea slug that was seen on a previous 
trip, but have no luck. Instead, we check 
on another experiment we set up a few 
days before. In this environment, four spe- 

cies of brachiopods, survivors of an an- 
cient past, cling abundantly by their 
pedicels to the rock walls and one another. 
Elsewhere in the world these animals have 
all but disappeared, despite their domi- 
nance in ancient seas. Why should they be 
so abundant here? Brachiopods are distin- 
guished from bivalve moUusks internally 
by their double-spiraled lophophore, 
which serves both as a respiratory and 
food-collecting organ. 

We suspect they compete poorly against 
the more reproductively aggressive mol- 
lusks, such as mussels, and are now more 
or less restricted to refuges where perhaps 
food is too limited to support their com- 
petitors. To test this idea, we transplanted 
mussels from shallow water down to the 
brachiopod habitat and brachiopods up to 
the mussel habitat. Some of the transplants 
are protected from predators with cages, 
while others have to fend for themselves. 
We hope to have the results in twelve 
months, which, combined with other re- 
search, will determine whether a lack of 
food or increased predation keeps the 
mussels out of this habitat and allows the 
brachiopods to be successful. 

At depths of about fifty feet, the cliffs 

are dominated by large colonies of the 
black coral Antipathes fiordensis. More 
than 7 million colonies of this protected 
species live in depths of 100 feet or less 
throughout the New Zealand fiords. This 
is the largest and shallowest population of 
black corals known. Living black corals 
can be white, gray, green, orange, or even 
bright yellow, but never black. The term 
refers to the skeleton secreted by the tiny 

64 Natural History 3/93 

A snake star rests tightly coiled around the branches of a black 
coral. Snake stars, which are distant relatives ofstaifish. often 
remain on the same perch year after year 

Darryl Torckler 

polyps, the individuals that make up the 
colony. Since these polyps are easily 
abraded and most black corals were origi- 
nally collected by dredge, the description 
was based purely on the skeleton. 

Black corals are not even "true" corals, 
since they are anatomically distinct and do 
not have a skeleton of calcium carbonate. 
Instead, the semiprecious, ebonylike ma- 
terial in the skeleton is a protein reinforced 

with chitin fibers similar to insect cuticle. 
The protein is yellow-brown, but in mul- 
tiple layers it appears jet black. The tree- 
like skeleton, which has no roots, is ce- 
mented to the submarine cliffs and 
provides the coral colony with a rigid and 
resilient support. When heated, this mater- 
ial can be twisted and bent, yet when cool 
it is hard enough to fashion and polish into 
jewelry and curios. 

Black corals, or Antipatharia, occur in 
all oceans, in depths ranging from shallow 
water to several thousand feet. About 150 
species are recognized, the majorit}- of 
which are found in tropical and subtropi- 
cal oceans deeper than 300 feet. Even so, 
only a few specialists worldwide can iden- 
tify more than a handful of species. Until 
recently our ecological knowledge of 
black corals was limited to a few stuilie> 

on populations in Hawaii, Trinidad, and 
Jamaica and a few isolated submersible 
observations. Because most black corals 
live at depths greater than 100 feet, the 
dives needed to conduct detailed investi- 
gations and experiments are difficult and 
dangerous. In the New Zealand fiords, 
however, black coral grows in water as 
shallow as 15 feet. Their accessibility, 
prominence, and potential for attracting 
recreational divers and associated tourism 
provided the impetus for an international 
research program. Slowly, the private lives 
of these little-known organisms have 
begun to unfold. 

We began with an apparently simple 
task: to measure growth rates in colonies 
of Fiordland black coral. X-rays of 
branches showed clear growth rings, simi- 
lar to those of trees, but we had no way of 
knowing whether these were annual or 
laid down in connection with such other 
events as food availability, reproduction, 
cold or warm periods, or catastrophic 
storms. After almost seven years of re- 
search, we have growth rate data from 
tagged colonies, size distributions, and 
chemical markers of the growth rings in 
the skeleton, all of which indicate that the 
rings are annual and that most colonies 
grow less than an inch per year. This is at 
least three times slower than a similar spe- 
cies studied in Hawaii. 

One colony directly in front of us is 
huge, fifteen feet tall from base to the top 
branches, and the actual length of the 
main, crooked branch is more than eight- 
een feet, indicating that this colony might 
be well over 200 years old. Some of the 
very largest colonies we measured in one 
of the other fiords must be 300 years old or 
more and may have been living when New 
Zealand fiords were first charted by Capt. 
James Cook in 1773. 

The largest colonies in any one area al- 
most always occur along sharp ridges or 
on comers of rock faces. At first we as- 
sumed this reflected an increased plank- 
tonic food supply sweeping past these 
promontories. But the growth rings in 
these specimens were no wider than those 

from more sheltered sites, suggesting that 
they had the same growth rates. They were 
simply older. 

The increased survival of black corals 
along ridges turned out to be linked to the 
topography of the forest above. The thin 
veneer of soil on the steep mountain sides 
cannot support the oldest trees, so at some 
stage entire strips of forest slide into the 
fiord, bringing with them rocks and silt. 
Such slides are frequently triggered by 
earthquakes, which arise along the nearby 
plate boundary straddled by this pait of 
New Zealand. The resultant landslide can 
occasionally clear a submarine swath up to 

500 feet wide. Because rocks and forest 
debris tend to tumble to the sides, those 
black coral colonies perched along sub- 
merged ridge lines are spared. We have 
used this knowledge many times to find 
the largest colonies. We simply find a 
patch of forest with mature trees that 
shows no landslide scars and dive there. 

As we continue our ascent along the 
submarine cliff, just off to our right a large 
trunk of a podocarp lies at an angle across 
a small rock ledge. This tree fell only a 
year ago. We remember because it carried 
away twenty-one tagged black coral 
colonies, part of our growth rate experi- 

66 Natural History 3/93 

At night, snake stars, left, feed on the tiny hits of food trapped by 
the black coral polyps. After gaining a foothold on a branch of 
black coral, a soft coral, below, is contained by the special black 
coral polyps with long, spaghettilike stinging tentacles. 

Ken Grange and Walter Goldberg 

ments. Within a few weeks, small white 
urchins had crawled over it, and now this 
trunk, originally a foot in diameter, was al- 
most entirely rasped away. The forest 
above these iiords is an integral part of the 
marine food web since in situ plant pro- 
duction by phytoplankton and seaweeds is 
severely limited in these dim waters. In- 
stinctively, we look up, remember the 
large beech tree the research vessel is tied 
to, and hope the wind has stayed calm. 

Most of the black coral colonies around 
us are healthy. All the branches are cov- 
ered with small white polyps, each with 
six tentacles surrounding a mouth in the 
center. Tentacles are loaded with batteries 
of specialized cells containing spirocysts, 
whose prime function is to capture tiny 
plankton. The spirocysts accomplish this 
by ejecting sticky threads. The polyps then 
reel the immobilized prey into their 
mouths. We had spent many minutes over 
the past few nights hovering near these 
colonies with our lights off, watching 
plankton being caught. One particular spe- 
cies of copepod, a tiny crustacean, emits a 
burst of light when captured. At times, a 
whole black coral colony may twinkle as 

hundreds of these small organisms are 
caught. Sights like these make getting out 
of bed in the middle of the night during 
cold and heavy rain worthwhile. 

In some places along a few branches 
strange polyps appear with considerably 
elongated tentacles. These defensive ten- 
tacles grow in response to invading soft 
corals, which grow on the black coral. 
(Because soft coral larvae would normally 
be consumed upon contact with healthy 
black coral, they can only gain a foothold 
on the black coral's skeleton after it has 
been exposed, owing to an injury.) These 
defensive fighter, or sweeper, tentacles 
have an impressive battery of powerful 
stinging cells, the nematocysts. Their task 
is to keep faster-growing, would-be invad- 
ing species from overgrowing the colony. 

Reluctantly, we leave the forest of black 
corals and swim up to thirty feet to meet 
an old friend, a smaller black coral colony, 
three-quarters dead but with one healthy 
side supporting a dark red snake star. A 
particulariy flexible type of brittle star, this 
species of snake stai- lives only on black 
corals. Throughout the day the five arms, 
which may be up to eighteen inches long. 

remain tightly coiled with half-hitches 
around the coral branches. At night or dur- 
ing exceptionally dark days, the arms un- 
coil and continually wave about through 
the coral branches and the surrounding 
water. Previously, marine biologists pre- 
sumed that these brittle stars used the 
black coral colonies as convenient perches 
from which to extend their arms into the 
water to catch plankton. But if this were 
true, we wondered, why did we never find 
them on sunken trees or dead colonies? In- 
variably, they are found only on healthy 
branches of the colonies. We also knew 
they did not move because, for more than 
six years, we had repeatedly observed the 
same individuals, distinguished by their 
color pattems, on the same branches, with 
no apparent damage to the underlying 

Experiments we conducted at night 
showed that these snake stars steal the 
plankton caught by the coral. But why 
does the host put up with this? Our answer 
came after one of the landslides. Those 
corals with snake stars survived the 
smothering effects of silt better than those 
without. One night, we carefully removed 
a snake star from a healthy coral and trans- 
planted it to the colony that we were now 
examining. The colony had been covered 
by silt and was producing mucus in an at- 
tempt to wash the silt away. One month 
after the transplant, the coral polyps 
around the snake star were healthy and 
free of sediment. The cleared area corre- 
sponded to the area swept by the anns dur- 
ing nighttime feeding. Three years later, 
the area around the snake star was still 
healthy, whereas the rest of the colony had 
died and become overgrown by bry- 
ozoans, sponges, and soft corals. The 
black corals put up with some of their food 
being stolen in return for increased sur- 
vival. Such symbiotic relationships ai^e es- 
pecially important to a species that may 
live for centuries, unable to move in re- 
sponse to unfavorable changes in its envi- 

The scientific term for black coral. An- 
tipatharia, is derived from the Greek 


Thirty feet below the surface of Caswell 
Sound, a biscuit star rests on a bed of 
colonial sea squirts. 

Darryl Torckler 

words anti (against) and pathos (suffer- 
ing). Many cultures throughout history 
have used the skeleton for a variety of 
medicinal and mystical purposes. Black 
coral may no longer be considered sacred 
by most cultures, but living colonies cer- 
tainly command a special respect. 
Colonies often present themselves to sport 
divers as ghostly trees along steep drop- 
offs in currents, at the very edge of safe 
diving depths where their beauty is en- 
hanced by nitrogen narcosis. Too often, 
these corals have been exploited for com- 
mercial purposes, resulting in the deple- 
tion of most populations within diving 
depths. Black corals are now listed in the 
Convention for the Intemational Trade in 
Endangered Species (CITES). They are 
completely protected in New Zealand. 

A sudden drop in temperature reminds 
us we are back in the surface layer. We 
drop down a few inches and use up the re- 
mainder of our air in the relative comfort 
of warmer water, watching sea spiders, or 
pycnogonids, wandering about on mussel 
shells. Such long legs for such minute 
bodies. Small labrid fishes dart up into the 
freshwater layer to pick a bamacle, mus- 
sel, or piece of sea lettuce and swim back 
to the safety of the seawater. A line of 
predatory starfish, and little else, hovers 
just below the sharp interface between the 
two layers. These roving bands wait for 
slight changes in the thickness of the 
freshwater layer; when the layer thins, 
they can move up and feed on the blue 
mussels. When the rain begins to fall 
again, the starfish will retire below the 
freshwater layer because they are unable 
to withstand even the brackish water at the 
interface, as can the mussels. After the rain 
of the past week we wonder how hungry 
they are. 

We make one more dive to retrieve the 
plankton net over the female coral before 
we sail back to a wharf twenty miles far- 
ther up the fiord. From there we will take a 
four-wheel-drive vehicle over the moun- 
tain pass and a ferry across New Zealand's 
deepest lake before we reach the nearest 
small town. As we pack the gear, the sky 
darkens and clouds gather. One clear 
morning in seven is about right. D 

68 Natural History 3/93 


Exploring the world with expert lecturers 




Moq 9-24, 1993 

Medieval ruins, archeological sites and spectacular landscapes 
of the Scilly, Skellig and Aran Islands, Dartmouth and Donegal, 
lona, St. Kilda, the Orkneys, Shetlands, Mousa and Fair Isle. 
Ship: 41-cabin Polaris 

June 11-23, 1993 

Tortoises, turtles, marine and land iguanas, sea lions, a mag- 
nificent array of birdlife and dramatic volcanic landscapes. 
Ship: 20-cabin Isabela II 


Rediscovering Russia and the Baltics 

June 14-29, 1993 

Historic ports, including St. Petersburg, Kronstadt and 
Kaliningrad in Russia; Tallinn, Estonia; Riga, Latvia; Klaipeda, 
Lithuania; Gdansk, Poland; Rugen and Lubeck in Germany; 
and Amsterdam, Holland. 
Ship: 41-cabin Polaris. 

June 29 - Jul^ 12, 1993 

Beautiful Mediterranean islands, volcanoes, ancient sites and 
charming towns at ports-of-call on Santorini, Crete, Malta, 
Sicily and Corsica, ending at the city of Barcelona. 
Ship: 44-cabin Aurora I 


Alaska and the Russian Far East 

June 29 - JuIm «, 1993 

Wildlife and magnificent scenery from Homer to Nome, in- 
cluding Alaska's Katmai Peninsula, the Aleutians and Pribilofs, 
and Russia's Providenya and Arakamchechen Islands. 
Ship: 69-cabin World Discoverer 

Bergen to Spitsbergen 
June 30 - Julv< 15, 1993 

Norway's spectacular fjords, as well as glaciers, icebergs, pack 
ice and Arctic flora and fauna of the Lofoten Islands, Bear 
Island, and Spitsbergen. 
Ship: 41-cabin Polaris 

JulM 10-19, 1993 

Spectacular fjords, channels, rivers, glaciers, whales, sea 
lions, bears and a wealth of birdlife in Alaska's Inside Passage. 
Ship: 37-cabin Sea Lion 

Julq 19 - August 5, 1993 

An historic transit aboard a powerful icebreaker through 
Canada's ice-packed Northwest Passage, stopping at remote 
Inuit villages and islands associated with past Arctic explorers. 
Ship: 59-cabin Kapitan Khlebnikov 

Retradng the Odifsseif in the 

August 16 - September 1, 1993 

Historic islands, cities and sites in the Mediterranean along 
Odysseus' route, including Istanbul, Troy, Mycenae, Malta, 
Jerba, Corsica, Monte Circeo, Naples, Corfu and Ithaca. 
Ship: 44-cabin Aurora I 


Qreece and Turkeij 

Sept. 20 - October 5, 1993 

Aboard the legendary Sea Cloud, a voyage to Mediterranean 
islands, historic cities and ancient sites, including Ankara, the 
ruins at Troy, Pergamon, Delos, Lindos, Kusadasi, Ephesus 
and Istanbul. 
Ship: 35-cabin Sea Cloud 

American Museum of Natural History/Discovery Cruises and Tours 
Central Park West at 79th Street New York, NY 10024-5192 

(800) 462-8687 or (212) 769-5700 
Monday - Friday, 9-5 E.S.T. 


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JSa/)^hru%^ oj^^Jili-} \ 

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Australia • India • Indonesia • Malaysia • Morocco 
^ew Zealand • Papua New Guinea • Tahiti • Thailand 

nee, not long ago, it 
was enough for the 
American traveler to 
skim lightly over the 
surface of the earth 
and to affix labels to 
his mental and physical baggage to prove he had 
been there. Where? Well, Paris and London and 
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and Tokyo. 
But the days of "If it's Tuesday, it must be Bel- 

gium" have gone, happily. Today's travelers go 
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Following are some dramatic destinations that 
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Dampier ■ Darwin ■ Derby ■ Devonport • Dubbo ■ Fremande ■ Geraldton ■ Gladstone Goondiwindi • Gympie ■ Ipswich Jabim Kalgoorlie • Kambalda Katherine ■ Katoomba 

I sis 

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Tne only place in tne world wnere 
a day trip will take you back 3 nillion years. 

Wade through an ancient mountain pool in the morning. 
Listen to the cry of a cockatoo rip through the velvet stillness 
of the afternoon. And recall our ageless rain forest trees in the 
evening over a glass of fine Australian 
wine. Where else can you drink in 
3 billion years in a single day?« 

The architecture of 

The Sydney Opera House is a delight for 

the eye as well as the ear 

The "Remarkable Rocks", 

like many other Australian landmarks, 

are remarkably well named 

The wombat doesn t look like 

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the resemblance. 

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Time Travel 

Back to Florida, 

50 Years ago. 

You'll board a Time Machine, 
called the Kokomis. Travel 
only a few hundred yards, and 
50 years. You step off onto an 
island. It's 1935. And this 
private island is yours. You 
look back at the mainland, 
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complimented by first class, 
warm, personalized service. 

If you think you'd like to 
time travel to the Florida 
resort experience you 
probably never had the 
opportunity to enjoy, 
call 1-800-688-1935, or 

^^ for a 
/ \ brochure. 

I S I A' N D 

2 A I! a v R i> ;i d . N a p I c 

Florida 3394(1 


From the rumpled roof of Ayers 
Rock, the arid red earth stretches 
seemingly forever, its horizon 
broken only by the dome-like humps of 
the Olgas. This is the Northern Terri- 
tory, twice the size of Texas, a world im- 
mensely remote, empty, and old. It is a 
part of the vastness known, in that in- 
comparable Australian slang, as the Out- 

Until rather recently, the rugged 
Northern Territory (comprising the Red 
Centre and the Top End) was home only 
to cattle, tough stockmen, crocodiles, 
strange species of beasts and insects, and 
the aboriginals who derive their civiliza- 
tion from an ancient Dreamtime. 

The traveler who finds his way beyond 
Sydney and Melbourne to this forbidding 
and oddly beautiful place sees nature at 
its eye-poppijig best: Ayers Rock, the 
world's largest monolith; the mysterious 
Olgas (home of a giant serpent who can 
change into a rainbow); Kings Canyon (a 
happy hunting ground for naturalists), 
and the never-never Melville Islands. He 
will also meet one of earth's oldest peo- 
ples and have a chance to examine their 
astonishing art and mythology. 

There are two principal outposts, Dar- 
win on the northern coast and Alice 
Springs on the southern edge of the terri- 
tory. The Northern Territory Holiday 
Planner gives provocative itineraries for 
prowling these exciting places. 


No one understands India who 
is not Indian, and even Indi- 
ans are often confused. India 
is a universe of almost 900 million people 
who speak sixteen languages and hun- 
dreds of dialects and worship in four 
major religions. It is bordered by the 
world's highest mountains (the Hi- 
malayas), and ranges from tropical heat 
in the south to near-Arctic cold on the 
northwestern Rajasthan desert. 

Richer than rajahs in history, art, and 
architecture, India can produce cultural 
indigestion. Begin with a small bite, but a 
superlative one: the Ajanta and Ellora 
caves, about 250 miles east of Bombay. 

These hand-hewn "caves" (they de- 
serve a more descriptive term) may have a 
few equals in man-made miracles — 
Egypt's pyramids, possibly, or Abu Sim- 
bel; Petra in Jordan; Machu Picchu in 
Peru — but no superiors. Here on the 
Deccan Plateau, artists carved in stone 
temples, shrines, Hindu gods and god- 
desses, figures of Buddha, public halls, 
courtyards, streets — all from solid rock. 

Of all the caves (29 at Ajanta, 34 at El- 
lora), Kailasa Temple at Ellora is so 
dizzying in its conception, not to nnention 
its execution, that you may fall on your 
knees to catch your breath. It alone is 
worth a trip to India. 

To appreciate the achievements of 
Ajanta and Ellora, the traveler requires 

Ayers Rock in the Australian Outback 

outstanding guides. That is available 
through the services of Swan Hellenic's 
21-day Art Treasures tour to India and 
Nepal, only one of their worldwide, in- 
depth escorted adventures. 

As in all of Swan Hellenic trips, a 
world renowned guest lecturer travels 
with the group and expert local guides are 

The Jain sculptures at Gwalior Fort in Cen- 
tral India 

used along the way. Throughout the en- 
tire trip a traveler's every need is at- 
tended to and even the most minute of 
details is carefully planned in advance. 
The tours are small, creating a true learn- 
ing vacation while traveling with like- 
minded individuals. Swan Hellenic is also 
well known for its cruises on the Nile, 
Mediterranean, Aegean, Red and Black 
Seas, as well as Europe's scenic rivers. 


Deep in the rich, green heart of 
central Java — a region of still- 
smoking volcanoes, manicured 
rice paddies, and crowded villages where 
every day is market day — there rises one 
of Indonesia's greatest artistic and histor- 
ical treasures, the world's largest Bud- 
dhist temple, Borobudur. 

The massive pile constructed in the 
eighth century by the labor of thousands 
of designers, laborers, and sculptors is 
hundreds of years older than Cambodia's 
better-known Angkor Wat. Despite its 

The New Vie 

Your Quest Stop; 

Bask in the beauty of 
Halong Bay, with its Karst 
formations appearing like 
loaves of bread on end 
among 3000 islets. The 
tranquil fisherman hold 
up baskets of blue crabs 
which you may be lucky 
enough to have for dinner. 

Discover the bustling, 
eager people of Haiphong 
Harbor who wave and greet 
you with sheer pleasure. 
Don't be surprised if the 
children ask you where 
you're from, how old you 
are. All children learn 
English in Vietnam, and 
people take great pleasure 
in practicing with Americans, 

Be prepared to experience 
the new Vietnamese perspective in places 
with familiar names. Hanoi. The home 
of many national monuments, Hanoi has 
a native market that is a good example of 
the enormous energy of a people who are 
rebuilding their lives. Marvel at the park 
which contains the Lake of the Sword, right 
in the middle of the city. Hue. Formerly 
the Imperial City, Hue is surrounded by 
summer palaces and burial grounds of 
former kings. Saigon. Where the jungle 
comes right down to the river and little 
villages pepper the tributaries. Suddenly, 
sailing up the river, you're at the dock in 
the center of a city that has been called 
"the Paris of the East". 

Surprising Vietnam. Amazingly, 
this complex culture gives the Vietnamese 
people the strength to look forward, not 
backward. Throughout the cruise, and in 
land excursions, our regional experts will 
provide perspective and enhance your 
understanding of the Vietnamese culture, 
its dynasties and its many outside 

There's another Vietnam. 
A Vietnam you may 
not have heard about. 
A serene country of 
warm, energetic people 
who are fascinated 
by Americans. 
Their smiling faces and 
spontaneous friendship 
are in keeping with the 
surprising beauty of this 
country which is now, 
for the first time in 
2500 years, not occupied 
by foreigners 

Travel on the M.S. 
Frontier Spirit, a ship 
expressly designed to 
enhance the experience 
of exploration with the 
comfort that renews you 
for the discoveries of 
another day. Each 
stateroom faces outside, 
some complete with 
verandah, all with the 
amenities that world 
travelers have come to 
expect. Choose your 
cabin with twin or 
double beds. Select from 
our menu of fine cuisine 
in the open-searing 
dining room. A special 
24-hour room service 
menu is also available. 
Our 13 and 16-day cruises, packaged 
as 18 and 22-day SeaQuest tours^," including 
air, and pre- and post- land arrangements 
begin at just over $322 per person, 
per day*. SeaQuest's Vietnam explorations 
depart April 11, June 2, August 28 and 
October 19,1993. 

For your free 52-page New Explorer'^' 
magazine describing Vietnam and other 
unique SeaQuest^" voyages, contact your 
Travel Agent, return this coupon 
or call 1-800-854-8999. 

If you've ever dreamed of exploring 
Vietnam, Your Quest Stops Here. 

Please send me your free 52-page Nevv Explorer-" magazine 


SeaQuest Cruises'" 600 Corporate Drive, 
Suite 410, Ft. Uuderdale, FL 33334 

' Cruise-only crcdj ts are a^'ailnWe, single ; 

ind Immigiation dintges afciiddiao 
SeaQuest Cnjisci. AlIrishBrewn 



OdVvJi Egypt's antiq- 
uities aboard the luxurious Nile 
Monarch or sail into the Mediter- 
ranean aboard the Orpheus. 

Whether enjoying a wine and 
garden tour of Southern Africa or 
experiencing the world's art trea- 
sures and natural history wonders 
- all programs are accompanied by 
expert guest lecturers and guides. 

For more information about 
these wonderful tours and cruises 
contact your travel agent or: 


5.S1 ncylsum Street, N, Ruston, MA 021 16 

(617)266-7465 • (800)426-5492 

Polar Bears, 
Tundra Buggies 
& The Polar Bear 

Experience the gathering of the 
Great White Bears in Churchill, 
Manitoha: View and photograph- 
the bears from the vantage of an 
original Tundra Buggy and com- 
plete your visit With a 3-night 
adventure on the shores of 
Hudson Bay in our exclusive 
Polar Bear BunkhouSe Lodge. 
Prime time departures 
Oct/Nov 1993, from $1795 


Spear Fishing in the Blue Lagoon at Ran- 
giroa in French Polynesia 

magnificence, the temple was abandoned 
only shortly after its completion when 
the center of Buddhism shifted away. It 
rested, forgotten, for a thousand years 
under coats of lava until rediscovery by 
Sir Stamford Raffles (the founder of Sin- 
gapore), in the 1800s. 

Excavated at the beginning of the 20th 
century, the masterwork began to col- 
lapse under it own weight and the ravages 
of a tropical climate. Following a decade 
of work with the aid of the United Na- 
tions, it once again stuns the imagination. 

Indonesia's best-known islands — Java, 
Sumatra, and Bali — are only three 
among the 13,677 in the world's largest 
archipelago. They are most comfortably 
visited on a custom-arranged trip con- 
ducted by experts in the region, such as 
those sponsored by Bolder Adventures, 
specialists in Southeast Asia. 

Ancient carvings in Borobudur, the world's 
largest Buddhist temple, in Indonesia 


As green as an emerald, as fra- 
grant as a breeze off the Straits 
of Malacca, Malaysia (about 
the size of New Mexico) is an exotic 
blend of cultures: Malay, Chinese, and 
Indian with a touch of British from the 
days of Empire. Geographically it con- 
sists of Peninsular Malaysia, dangling off 
the south tip of Thailand, and the states 
of Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo, (the 
world's third largest island). 

Malaysia has many alluring aspects: 
great cuisines, splendid arts and festivals, 
and the handsomest capital city in the 
East, Kuala Lumpur. 

Nature is the artist here, its palette pro- 
ducing jungles of green a hundred million 
years deep, sands of a white talcum soft- 
ness, flowers that explode in a galaxy of 
15,000 species, including the world's 
largest flower, the rafflesia. 

Squeezed into this small space is a gar- 
den of diversity: rain forests home to a 
wealth of wildlife (Taman Negara is the 
national virgin reserve); stretches of 
lonely beaches along the East Coast; high 
mountain plateaus with retreats sugges- 
tive of the British hill stations in India, 
(where fireplaces and hot toddies are de 
rigueur), and the granite dome of Sabah's 
Mount Kinabalu. Its 13,455-foot heights 
should be scaled only by energetic 


800-3 68-00 77 

Experience j 
Counts! "^ 

Both yours 
and oms. 

INTRAV, a proven leader 
deluxe travel to exotic 
destinations, invites you 
to review our 1993 
designed for 
Read about 
tours and cruises 
in our 32-page 
catalogue. Obtain 
your free copy by 
Count on our 
34 years 
experience to 
create a special 
for you, 


771 1 Bonhomme Avenue 
St. Louis, MO 63105-1961 

On Intrav's new 19-day Siam to Bali 
Adventure Holiday, you can travel in a 
group to Malaysia's island paradise of 
Penang. Pearl of the Orient, Penang is an 
island of swaying palms and golden 
beaches lapped by gentle blue waters. As 
on all Intrav Adventures, the finest hotels 
are featured, along with experienced local 
staffs and the services of Intrav-trained 
and employed Travel Directors. 

Intrav, with more than 35 years of ex- 
perience, offers fully escorted one-of-a- 
kind itineraries, to exotic destinations on 
seven continents around the globe. 


So much is mysterious in Morocco 
that the visitor seems always to be 
strolling in a dream world, a 
world more likely to be staged by Holly- 
wood than by reality. 

All Morocco's surreal qualities emerge 
in the city of Fez, "where all is Eden or a 
wilderness," in the words of Lord Byron. 
Deep in the twisting streets of the med- 
ina, where leather workers labor in a 
scene out of Dante's underworld, you be- 
come lost in a swirl of colors never before 
seen, of smells indescribably odd, you 
begin to feel as if you have entered a 
world beyond ours and may never find 
your way out. 

So near to Europe, so far from tradi- 
tional western civilization: Morocco is 
one of the most surprising (and reward- 
ing) discoveries in all of vast Africa. 

Few countries so demand skilled inter- 
pretation. Offering that, as well as the 
widest range of arrangements from luxu- 
rious hotels to trekkers' camps, Cross 
Cultures Adventures has focused on Mo- 
rocco for 15 years. The tours vary from a 
trek linking ancient hamlets of the mag- 
nificent Atlas Mountains to observe its 
4,000 year old Berber culture and pre-Is- 
lamic worship sites, to a chance to ex- 
plore the bird sanctuaries of the Western 
Sahara, where marshlands at the desert's 
edge shelter rare native species. You may 
choose to explore alone on a pre-arranged 
itinerary or as part of a group (all limited 
to ten people). 

/ 1th Year' 

In 1982 we launched our original 
"insider's look " approach to travel ttirougti 
an ad to the readers of Natural History, in 
1993 we invite you to sample our array of 
select, top-quality outings for discreet 
groups of but 8 to 14 participants on 

— unmatchable insights into 


with customized itineraries 
and Ihese specialized programs: 

Culture & Archaeology 

in the Atlas Mountains 

lune 1 - IS 
A trek linking ancieni hamlets of the magnificent Atlas 
range to observe its 4000-year-old Berl)er culture and 
pre-lslamic worship sites 

Atlas Rover 

and Imilchil Betrothal Feur 

September It - 23 
The ultimate adventure feasible in Morocco, by Land 
Rovers to remote, pristine vales, with home hospitality 
among our Berber friends 

Oases & Mairkcts 

of the SadiSLra 

November 20 - December 4 
Ancieni adobe forts, caravan outposts, lush oases, 
vibrant weekly markets and splendid desert scenery 

Bird Sanctuciries 

of the Western Ssihara 

fanuary 1994 
Marshlands on the desert's edge shelter rare native 
species and migratory visitors from other lands 

— the most far-reaching programs in 


A Journey to Naigadaind 

with Asscun's Bihu Festival & Darjeeling 

April 12 - May I 
Our exclusive penetration of the rugged and still 
restricted Naga hills above Burma, renowned for lush 
vegetation and formerly head-hunting animists 

Spiti— The Forbidden Vade 

with Ladakh 

A Himalayan enclave of Lamaist culture on the 
Tibetan border, just opened to outsiders a year ago 

Temple Treasures 

of South India 

October 16 - November 9 
The most thorough look at the extreme south, from 
wildlife to spice plantations, hill stations to palaces, and 
among the world's most exquisite temples 


November 10 ~ December 4 
Legends, forts, tribals, princely extravagances, crafts 
and the Pushkar Camel Fair in India's showcase state 

— the most thorough explorations of 


Crossroads of Civilizations 


From Carthage and the best Roman sites anywhere 
to Bedouin traditions and holy Islamic sites, at the lime 
of the Douz desert festival 


Road to Timbuktu 

. January 1994 
Follow the steps of Timbuktu's first explorers as we 
cross a dozen cultures in this vestige of "real Africa" 

Cross Cultural Adve??turcs 

PO Box 3285, Arlington, VA 22203 
(703) 204-2717 • TEIEX 440283 ACI Ui 



Brown Bears of Katmai 

Alaska's legendary giants close-up! 

St. Geoi^e, Pribilof Islands 

Huge fur seal & Seabird colonies! 

Denali National Park 

See it like few others do! 

S£. Alaska Spectacular 

Bears, glaciers, wilderness river! 

Best of Alaska 

The very best of So. Central Alaska! 


X I N T E R N 


P.O. Box 1 637C, Vashon, WA 98070 


Local Tribesmen, New Guinea Highlands 




When you see the world's 
fjrt-atest treasures with Swan Hellenic, 
yoii capture, experience, and take them 
hitme with you. 

Whether an Art Treasures 
tour of the world or cruising the Nile, 
Aegean, Mediterranean, Black or Red 
Seas, you will be in the company of 
internationally-recognized experts, 
who will share their enthusiasm and 
knowledge with you. 

Steeped in history, we jour- 
ney through lands and myths of time 
to discover treasures of the past. 

Contact your local travel 

agent or Esplanade Tours for more 

■information about these 5WAKj|^f 

■jjinforgettable programs. HELLENIC 

"'"^^iK-- '■..-■ 

"^yf'Rnvi^t.m Street, N, Boston, MA 021 16 
/ '(M7) 266-7465 • (800)426-5492 


Deep at the "bottom" of the 
globe, between the South Pa- 
cific and the Tasman Sea, float 
the North an.d South Islands of New 
Zealand. Geologically ancient (500-600 
million years) it was the last major land 
mass (besides Antarctica) to be reached 
by man. (The Polynesians, Maoris, ar- 
rived about 1,200 years ago; Europeans 
not until the mid-18th century.) 

But here, as in so much of the Pacific, 
nature reigns particularly powerfully on 
South Island. Lesser known than Mount 
Cook (Aorangi, the Cloud Piercer) is 
Fiordland, the country's largest national 
park which is almost three million acres. 
Deep on the southwestern coast. Lakes 
Te Anau and Manapouri lie cold and 
clear between sheer-sided cliffs and wild, 
deep valleys. It's a land of legends, in- 
cluding that of the Lost Tribe of Man- 
apouri. At least ten fiords cut to the sea, 
including Dusky Sound, discovered by 
Captain James Cook in 1770. The most 
beautiful is Milford Sound, much of its 
spectacular scenery sliced by the Milford 
Track, the "finest walk in the world." It 
is open from November to April. 

The cultures of both the British and 
the Maoris have left their varied impres- 
sions: the Maori especially in the Auck- 
land Museum and the British in entire 
towns such as Christchurch. 

Papua New 

Every moment one spends in 
Papua New Guinea is an adven- 
ture. Almost nothing seems fa- 
miliar; this may not even be the 20th cen- 

Papua New Guinea, a country slightly 
larger than California, occupies the east- 
ern half of the island of New Guinea. The 
landscape is often savage and primitive, 
from swampy plains to ragged, majestic 
mountains cut by chasms where, flying 
over in a small plane, one can believe no 
human ever walked. The rain forests, 
mangrove swamps and savannah grass- 
lands can seem absolutely eerie. 

In Papua New Guinea it is the presence 
of the indigenous peoples that seduces 
the imagination. Many of the hundreds of 
tribes live in virtual isolation, speaking 
mutually unintelligible languages. West- 
ern civilization is an upstart; as recently 
as 1937, many of the people of the High- 
lands saw their first steel tool, their first 
wheel, and their first white man. 

Today, tribes that once battled till 
death compete in "singsings," festivals of 
chants and dances performed in gorgeous 
costumes. Thousands of warriors, glis- 
tening with pig grease and charcoal, their 
heads bedecked with feathers, dance out 
their dreams and legends. Major singsings 
are held in August and September in ei- 
ther Goroka or Mt. Hagen. 



A unique 
adventure a 
world away. 

A land where village 
life is timeless. 
scenery, lush junglesand crystal clear 
waters with hundreds of wrecks, offering 
superb diving. Experience the mystery of 
jungle fringed rivers at the renowned 
KARAWARI LODGE. Witness the intricately 
dazzling colorful Huli people at AMBUA 
LODGE in Tari. A touch of luxury off the 
beaten path! Sail aboard the luxury 18 
passenger SEPIK SPIRIT or 42 passenger 
terious SEPLK RLVER. known for primitive 
art and isolated villages. For those more 
adventurous, choose hiking, rafting or 4- 
wheel drive programs. Treat yourself to the 
adventure of a lifetime. . . 

For a brochure, see your Travel Agent or call; 





Air Niugini 






1993 TOURS ^ 


Prof. Robert Stieglltz, Rutgers U. 

SPAIN jtfay 

Mattanyah Zohar, Hebrew U. 


Dr. Myles McDonnell, Historian 

TURKEY TOURS: West.Turkey May & Oct. 

East. Turkey /un. Ancient Cities Aug. 


Dr. Robert Blanchl, Metropolitan Museum 

CHINA TOURS: Yangtze /an. 

Tibet yun. Silk Route Sept. 


Prof. Bruce Kraig, Roosevelt U. 


Prof. Richard Cooler, Northern Illinois U. 

BRITTANY Aug./Sept. 

Mattanyah Zohar, Hebrew U. 


Dr. Robert Bianchi, Metropolitan Museum 


Warwick Ball, Archaeologist 


Dr. Robert Bianchi, Metropolitan Museum 


Prof. Wm. Collins, U. of California, Berkeley 


Mattanyah Zohar, Hebrew U. 


Prof. John Henderson, Cornell U. 

^^ SO. INDIA Nov. 

'■^^n Burton Stein, U. of London 

archaeological tours 

> 271 Madison Ave.. Suite 904H 

^ NewYork. NY 10016(212)986-3054 ■ 

Tahiti sings a siren song of tropi- 
cal beauty (and beauties) and 
has since it was "discovered" 
by Captain James Cook in 1769. Herman 
Melville and Paul Gauguin were en- 
tranced with this island paradise, and 
even Charles Darwin was forced out of 
his scientific stoicism to wax enthusiastic 
about its unique characteristics. 

Tahiti is only one of the Society Islands 
of French Polynesia Overseas Territory, 
a group of 130 widely scattered islands in 
five archipelagos in the South Pacific. Be- 
cause it is the best known and the admin- 
istrative center, its name has become syn- 
onymous with the entire area. 

More than half the population of the 
region lives in Tahiti and its only city, Pa- 

At anchor at the Bay of the Virgins, Fatu 
Hiva, Marquesa Islands 

peete. In recent years, several other of the 
Societies have become popular with wan- 
derers: Moorea, Bora-Bora, Huahine, 
Raiatea, and even little Maupiti, where 
the few and friendly inhabitants give oc- 
casional beach parties for the resident tu- 
papa'u (ghosts). 

People who really want to be alone 
seek sun, sand, and sea in the Marquesas, 
Tuamotus, Gambier, and Austral islands. 


Fly the award winning service of 
Air New Zealand and experience 
the environmental destination of 
the 1990's. 

New Zealand is an 
outdoor enthusiasts mecca, 
criss-crossed with a network of 
walking trails and readily avail- 
able guided treks that meander 
through pristine valleys, bush 
clad hillsides and above treelined 
tundra. The Routeburn; The 
Greenstone; The Hollyford; The 
Abel Tasman and the world 
famous Milford Track. 

Free of poisonous reptiles or any 
carnivorous animals New Zealand 
is the ideal setting for those who 
love to touch nature. 

Whether it's the Coastal Abel 
Tasman Walk, the mellow river 
banks of the Greenstone, or the 
deep lush native forest of the 
World Famous Milford Track, 
you'll find a walk to satisfy your 
heart's desire. 

For your free official color guide 
to "Trek New Zealand" please 

1 (800) 468 2665 or write to 

Amount cook une 

0! Birneiu ZEaiana 

the pride of the pacific \ 

I960 East Grand Avenue, Suite 910, | 

El Segundo, CA 90245 ; 

'^_i' '^Ul. . ^It' 


Its sheer immensity, unrivaled diversity of fauna 
and flora, its beauty and tranquility make the 
Amazon a paradise for nature lovers. Experience 
our new, extensive Canopy Walkw/ay System & 
rainforest research center. Feel excitement and 
adventure w/hile witnessing nature's greatest 
spectacle on her mightiest river. Monthly depar- 
tures. 8-Day Nature Expedition. $1698 all inclusive 
from Miami. Call for a detailed color brochure. 

The World Leader 

, international 



Over a decade planning nature expe- 
ditions to premier parks and wildlife 
reserves of the world. Indigenous 
naturalist guides offer you a per- 
sonal and authentic cultural encoun- 
ter. Trips support conservation 
through the Earth Preservation Fund. 

Free catalog and quarterly travel 
newsletter featuring: 
Costa Rica, Belize, Andes, 
Amazon, Patagonia, Africa, 
Thailand, Himalayas, Tibet, 
Turkey, Alaska and Hawaii. 


3516 NE 155th, Seattle, WA 98155 


You can take a tall ship from Nice to St. Tropez, to Cannes, or to ancient har- 
bors of the Western Mediterranean. Sail the same square riggers through 
Caribbean islands, or 
across the Atlantic. Com- 
bine the traditions of a 
bygone era with today's 
creature comforts. Two 
pools, elegant dining for 

L<"* 180 guests, piano bar, Edwardian-style library, and friendly crew. 
I Cruises start at just $995 per person with double occupancy. 
mM Sail with us. Live the dream. /^St \ 


Ask your travel agent or call 1-800-442-0551 for brochure. 4io', saizedo,\venue. Dtpi , Corai Gables, fl 33146 

Ships' Rcgisuy; Luxembourg 


The "modern" kingdom of the 
Thais (Prathet Thai) had its 
cultural beginnings in 
Sukhothai, a city founded in 1238. It en- 
dured only two centuries but left a legacy 
of architecture that remains the national 
style even today, most apparent in the el- 
egant, upturning wat (temple) roofs. 

Thailand is the only country in South- 
east Asia that was never taken over by a 
European power, and to a greater degree 
than any of its neighbors, it has main- 
tained its traditional art and architecture. 
Bangkok is studded with magnificent 
temples, shrines, and palaces, but yet is so 
contemporary it fails to transmit a sure 
sense of antique Thailand. 

The Temple of Dawn on Chao Phraya River, 

That can be discovered in the country 
town of Ayuthaya, only 53 miles north of 
Bangkok. In the 17th century, before 
being devastated by the Burmese, it was a 
glittering city that surpassed in style and 
size both London and Paris. Today, it lies 
largely in ruins (but what stately, impos- 
ing ones!). To skip Ayuthaya is to miss 
out on one of the historical moments that 
created today's Thailand. 

The earth is inexhaustible. As Lord 
Chesterfield wrote to his son more than 
two centuries ago, "The world is a coun- 
try which nobody ever yet knew by de- 
scription; one must travel through it 
one's self to be acquainted with it." 




The province of 
Kanchanaburi, to the west 
of Bangkok, has some of 
the most tranquil natural 
sights in Thailand; and one 
of the most infamous made 
by man: The Bridge on the 
River Kwai. 

The area is blessed with 
forests, caves and 
waterfalls, including the 
mighty Erawan Falls, and 
is home to the world's 
tallest Buddhist monument 
at Nakhon Pathom. 


place of 6,982 Allied 
il soldiers) and War Museum. 

Temples - 

Sights ' The infamous Phutthamonthon, Phra 

'Bridge on the River Kwai', Pathom Chedi, the world's 
built by allied POWs during tallest Buddhist monument 

World War II and made at Nakhon Pathom. 

famous by the film of the National Parks - Erawan 

same name; Allied War National Park (Erawan 

Cemetery (the resting Falls or 'Elephant Falls' as 

they are known); Sai Yok 
National Park (Khao Phang 
Falls, Sai Yok Falls and the 
Cave of Tham Kung), 
Thung Yai Naresuan 
National Wildlife Reserve. 
Excursions - Three 
Pagodas Pass, marking the 
border with Myanmar. 


^ ^_^ THERE -I 

Kanchanaburi town, in the 
province of the same name, 
is 122 km northwest of 
Bangkok near the border 
with Myanmar (Burma). It 
can be reached by hire car, 
coach or rail. 

For full information contact Tourism Autfiority of Thailand offices: ^^„o-^ 

New York - Tel (2121 4320433-35, Fax 1 212 9120920, Chicago - Tel, (312) 8193990-5, Fax 1 312 56503b9, 
Los Angeles - Tel. (213) 3822353-55, Fax 1 213 3897544. 

^^.m^i^'mmk:^-^r/..^f'^^-^^'''^'^ ^r^,.^ 

» \ \ 

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Celestial Events 

What's in a Name? 

By Gail S. Cleere 

On March 27, about an hour after sun- 
set, a lovely scene takes place in the west 
as the five-day-old crescent moon passes 
just below the Seven Sisters, known to the 
Greeks as the Pleiades, perhaps deriving 
from the Greek pled, meaning "sail." The 
heliacal rising of this striking group of 
stars, that is, the time of year that they rise 
in the morning before the sun, signaled the 
start of the Greek navigation season. The 
stars are still called the Sailor's Stars in 
England and Germany. 

Best observed in the winter sky, the 
Pleiades has no bright stars, but it is so 
compact that the effect is astonishing: 
"like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver 
braid," according to Lord Tennyson in his 
poem Locksley Hall. The stars have at- 
tracted the attention of other cultures, 
which also named them; they are known 
as the Needleworkers in China, the Seven 
Little Nanny Goats in parts of Spain, the 
Six Wives Who Ate Onions (cast out of 
their tents into the heavens by offended 
husbands) to one American Indian tribe, 
and the Lost Children to another. 

Marveling at the beauty and immensity 
of the night sky, you can be sure that all the 
stars you see, and a large number of those 
you don't, have had their positions, bright- 
ness, masses, and spectral types studied 
and cataloged by now. And you might as- 
sume that all these stars and star groups, 
not to mention all those other celestial ob- 
jects, have names — like the Pleiades. But 
you would be only half right. 

Some of the brightest stars, known since 
antiquity, have retained their ancient 
names. Many of these names were passed 
to us from the Arabs, whose desert life 

(and clear skies) necessarily made them 
very famiUar with the stars. In his 1899 
classic, Star Names and Their Meanings, 
Richard Hinkley Allen tells us that to un- 
derstand the names of antiquity we must 
look to the desert, "where the stars would 
be as much required and relied upon for 
guidance as on the trackless ocean." The 
fourteenth-century Sultan Ilderim is 
quoted as saying, "Thou canst not know 
how much we Arabs depend upon the 
stars. We borrow their names in gratitude, 
and give them love." 

The ancient Arabs named stars for 
shepherds and herdsmen, horses and their 
trappings, cattle, camels, sheep and goats, 
birds and reptiles, lions, tents, ornaments, 
and household goods. We also find ancient 
names that mean The Trusted One, The 
Lofty One, The Unfortunate, or The Soli- 
tary One. Many of these turn out to be 
Arab translations of Greek and Roman de- 

Today, contrary to the claims of those in 
the lucrative "business" of naming a star 
for the person of one's choice, no popular 
names are recognized by the world's as- 
tronomers. The naming of the stars and 
other celestial objects has passed from the 
storyteller and myth-maker to a select 
group of astronomers of the International 
Astronomical Union's (lAU) Commission 
on Astronomical Names. (Nevertheless, 
those who run these scams continue to col- 
lect money from individuals who hope to 
be immortalized in the heavens.) Poetry 
and myth have given way to numbers. As 
each star is identified, it is given a number 
according to the catalog into which it is 
being entered. But the old names given the 

bright stars of antiquity are happily re- 
tained — and are still used, in addition to 
their numbers. 

In 1603, Johann Bayer, a German 
lawyer and amateur astronomer, intro- 
duced another way of identifying the stars 
by using a letter of the Greek alphabet in 
conjunction with the star's home constel- 
lation name in Latin. In a number of cases, 
the brightest star in the constellation is 
named Alpha, the next brightest. Beta, and 
so on. Thus Regulus, the brightest star in 
Leo, would be called Alpha Leonis, and 
Denebola, the second brightest, would be 
Beta Leonis. Because only two dozen of a 
constellation's stars could be named this 
way, stellar catalogs were created, with 
each star receiving a number. The mid- 
nineteenth-century German catalog, Bon- 
ner Durch?nusterung, listed about 320,000 
stars designated by their BD number. In 
the 1920s, the Henry Draper catalog listed 
stars by their HD number. Over 100 non- 
stellar objects were listed by the eight- 
eenth-century astronomer Charles Messier 
and are referred to as Messier objects 
(M42, for example, is the Great Nebula in 
Orion). Later, in the nineteenth and twen- 
tieth centuries, thousands more were listed 
in the New General Catalog of astronomi- 
cal objects. 

The last major planet to be discovered, 
Pluto in 1930, kept with tradition and was 
assigned a name from mythology. So were 
many of the most recently discovered 
moons, or natural satellites of the outer 
planets. But the minor planets, such as 
those orbiting the sun in a belt between 
Mars and Jupiter, can be given practically 
any name the discoverer wishes, within 

84 Natural History 3/93 

On the Trail of the Titans 
of Prehistory . . . 


with the American Museum of Natural History 

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reason, subject to approval by the lAU's 
special corrunission. Thus there are aster- 
oids named for illustrious personae (living 
and dead), countries, cities and townships, 
plants, universities, electric calculators, 
sweets, social clubs, musical plays, and 
shipping lines. Recently an asteroid was 
named after a group of winemakers in Cal- 
ifornia (the Rhonerangers). 

Comets, on the other hand, are the only 
astronomical objects allowed to be named 
for theii" discoverers — hence a dedicated 
observer's one chance at immortality. 
Once in a while NASA looks for help in 
naming the features on astronomical ob- 
jects. When the Magellan spacecraft first 
began mapping Venus, scientists found 
they needed to come up with some 4,000 
new names. They appealed to the general 
public and were quickly overwhelmed 
with suggestions. Many of Venus' features 
had been named for the goddesses of an- 
cient rehgions and cultures, but the craters 
and volcanic vents were being named for 
actual women. The rules noted that these 

notable women must have been dead at 
least three years and that they couldn't be 
nineteenth- or twentieth-century military, 
political, or religious figures. On Mercury, 
many of the craters are named for artists, 
poets, and composers. 

The Planets in March 

Mercury is hard to spot this month for 
mid-northem latitude observers, reaching 
inferior conjunction (passing between the 
earth and the sun) on March 9. For the rest 
of the month, it will be low in the morning 

Venus dazzles us by maintaining its 
greatest brilliancy of the year for most of 
the month (-4.6 magnitude — no other 
planet reaches this brightness). At the be- 
ginning of the month, Venus is visible 
high in the west at sunset, but, as March 
progresses, this brilliant planet drops 
closer and closer to the horizon. On the last 
few days of the month, Venus will be visi- 
ble in both evening twilight and morning 
twihght, a phenomenon that occurs only 

"Looks like a black hole to me, but I've never seen one so close to our galaxy." 

86 Natural History 3/93 

once every eight years. Viewed with the 
aid of a telescope, or even binoculars, 
Venus appears as a crescent that grows 
thinner all month. 

Mars maintains a planetary outpost 
high in the constellation Gemini, nearing 
the meridian (a north-south line stretching 
across the sky from horizon to horizon) 
about sundown and setting more than two 
hours past midnight. On the 3d, and again 
on the 31st, the waxing first-quarter moon 
pays a call just to the south of Mars. Watch 
Mars get closer to Gemini's bright stars 
Castor and Pollux during the month. 

Jupiter rises just after sunset and is vis- 
ible for the rest of the night throughout the 
month. This gas giant lurks against the 
background of Virgo and is easily located 
by looking just above Virgo's bright star 
Spica (Jupiter will be by far the brighter of 
the two). Just before dawn on the 10th, 
look for the waning gibbous moon passing 
just below Jupiter. 

Saturn is lost in the solar glare, staying 
too close to the sun's eastern edge to be 
visible this month. Early in April, Saturn 
will make an entrance in predawn skies. 

Uranus and Neptune continue to chng 
together (Neptune above Uranus) just to 
the east of Sagittarius, simultaneously vis- 
ible within a moderate-sized telescope's 
field — the only time in our Uves that this 
will occur. Both can be found in predawn 
skies, with the waning crescent moon 
passing quite close by on the morning of 
the 17th. 

Pluto rises shortly before midnight, not 
far from the -1-3.5 magnitude star Mu Ser- 
pentis in the constellation Serpens. An 
eight-inch telescope and some accurate 
star charts are needed to see Pluto under 
very dark skies as it approaches opposi- 
tion in May. 

The Moon reaches first quarter on the 
1st at 10:46 a.m., EST; is full on the 8th at 
4:46 A.M., EST; reaches last-quarter at 
11:16 P.M., EST on the 14th; is new on the 
23d at 2:14 a.m., EST; and reaches first- 
quarter again on March 30 at 11:10 p.m., 
EST. (The same lunar phase repeating in a 
month is not very common, but does 

The vernal equinox can be seen on the 
20th at 9:41 a.m., EST, marking the begin- 
ning of spring in the Northern Hemi- 

Gail S. Cleere writes on popular astron- 
omy and is a founding member of the 
International Dark Sky Association, an 
organization dedicated to preserving the 
skies for astronomy. 


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Dept. 72 C: Hingham, M.\ 02(143 

No Chance 

Any way you look at it, smoke gets in your eyes 
by Roger L. Welsch 

The Hubbell telescope turned its astig- 
matic eye, I read in the newspaper the 
other day, in the general direction of some- 
where else and spotted evidence that two 
galaxies recently collided. I don't know 
about you, but I can't help but wonder 
who's driving. I can understand running 
over a thirteen-striped ground squirrel on 
the highway now and then, but how can 
you miss a galaxy coming at you on a clear 

We are dealing here, I think, with aver- 
ages and odds, the margin, chances, the 
spread. Everything I know about gam- 
bling — poker, the stock market, or collid- 
ing galaxies — suggests I should put my 
money under the mattress. As far as I can 
tell, most of the stuff we think of as being 
a matter of chance is actually a sure thing. 
Horse races and lotteries are set up by law 
to pay out less than comes in. Right up 
front they tell you that you are dam near 
guaranteed to lose your it-is-to-laugh in- 
vestment. Dwaine, our mailman, brags 
about the time he went to Las Vegas (he 
calls it "Lost Wages") and won nearly five 
hundred dollars. He admits, however, that 
he had to spend a thousand to do it. 

Same thing in the galactic lottery. What 
are the chances of a huge meteor or comet 
striking the earth and destroying all life on 
it? Now, think about it. Given a squillion 
years and a squillion meteors and comets 
and the kind of steering that allows one 
galaxy to sideswipe another, the chances 
are, roughly, 100.000 percent, give or take 
another googol of zeros. 

Same thing with maniage, speaking of 
intergalactic collisions. What are the 
chances of a marriage having a happy con- 
clusion? 00.000 percent, that's what. For- 
getting for the moment the peculiar con- 

vention of annulment, in which four or 
five grown-ups look at each other, shuiTle 
some papers, and conclude that what hap- 
pened didn't really happen, all American 
marriages end in death or divorce, with 
some question about which is worse. 

The premise in gambling is that the 
odds are close to fifty-fifty, or maybe, now 
and then, on Friday the twelfth and when 
you're wearing the right socks, just a tad 
in your favor. Well, that's wrong. Things 
are a lot more certain than what they ap- 
pear to be, and almost never in your favor. 
(If you think I'm being a Gloomy Gus, go 
to your local bank with that letter from Ed 
McMahon saying you're about to win ten 
million dollars, and try using it for collat- 
eral to take out a loan.) 

Campfires. I have spent a lot of my life 
sitting at campfires. You'd think that over 
the long run, smoke would blow away 
from my face about half the time and into 
it about half the time. Well, no, that's not 
right either. Figuring I'm not a total dufus, 
I should have the sense part of the time to 
move somewhere around the fire where I 
can avoid the smoke, and besides, there 
are four quadrants, so I should be in the 
smoke only 25 percent of the time, even if 
I pay no attention at all to which way the 
wind is blowing. 

Ha! If you sit downwind, smoke blows 
in your face, and if you sit upwind, the 
wind comes around you in little vortexes 
and pulls the smoke right up the front of 
your overalls, right into your face. If you 
sit at right angles to the wind blowing 
across a campfire, smoke still blows in 
your face, for reasons not yet explained by 
science. So no matter where you sit around 
a campfire, the odds are 100 percent that 
smoke will blow in your face. (Millennia 

ago, when I was in the Boy Scouts, we 
built little wooden baffles upwind of our 
fires to serve as an open chimney, but I'm 
too smart for that now.) 

As a teacher, I used to ride my bike to 
the university, and my knees and I often 
wondered why we were always going up- 
wind. I don't know for sure but I suppose I 
was going ten miles an hour (hey, my bike 
had fat tires, I was no longer thirty-some- 
thing, and it was early in the morning or 
late in the afternoon, so you can laugh at 
ten MPH but that was pretty good, consid- 
ering). And if the head wind was five miles 
an hour, then I had a relative head wind of 
fifteen miles an hour, right? 

I think that most days the wind shifted 
so I encountered the same handicap com- 
ing home, but assuming that the wind 
stayed constant during the day, I hiked 
home at ten miles an hour with a five-mile- 
an-hour tail wind, which means that I still 
had a relative head wind of five miles an 
hour. Everything remaining constant, I 
had a head wind both ways. If I came to a 
nice downhill run and got up to twenty 
miles an hour, then my relative head wind 
picked up to fifteen miles an hour. What 
kind of justice is that? 

I'm a Pollyanna optimist but I am 
amazed again and again at the faith other 
people have in the auspicious nature of 
"the odds." I was once at a concert where 
two pianists were playing grand pianos. 
You know the scene: The pianos were 
nested together so the musicians were fac- 
ing each other, flailing away at compli- 
cated harmonies and musical intertwin- 
ings. I turned to my friend and said, "Boy, 
they sure are good." He embraced the 
human tendency to believe in good karma 
and responded, "Or awful lucky." 

Natural History 3/93 


Similarly, a lady friend of mine once 
thought Mount Rushmore was a natural 
phenomenon. She could deal with the 
wind carving four human heads in solid 
rock, but four presidents... almost too 
much! I shared her bewildenment then and 
still do. 

I too have now and then leaned too hard 
on presumptions of good fortune. A few 
years ago I was watching a Muhammad 
Ali-Leon Spinks bout on television up at 
Slick's Tavern. Knowing a little bit about 
boxing, I expressed my opinion that Ali 
was blowing the fight because he was 
backing up. "You don't win the heavy- 
weight championship of the world back- 
ing up," I said. 

Mick Zangretti said, "I think you're 
wrong, Rog. Ali is winning, backing up or 

"Ha!" I exclaimed, remembering that 
Mick thinks new cars are a good invest- 
ment, and suggested that if he knew so 
much about boxing, maybe he'd like to put 
some money on the bar. He plunked down 
twenty dollars, I matched it, and then he 
explained that we were looking at a post- 
fight rerun. The fight had finished while 
we were eating pizza an hour earlier, and 
Ali got a unanimous decision. I covered 
myself by saying that I was aware of that 
but I sure didn't think Spinks would make 
the same mistakes twice in one night (I 
was still twenty dollars poorer). 

So what are the chances your big life in- 
surance policy will mature before a meteor 
tears off most of the earth's surface? Take 
it from me, you'd have better odds putting 
down money on a rerun. 

Folklorist Roger L. Welsch lives on a tree 
farm in Dannebrog. Nebraska. 

-mil WJ. i-ociiuxai ±J.13HJ11 



Bergen to 

Spitsbergen, Norway 

June 30 - Juli^ 15, 


The Norwegian Arctic is a 
spectacular area renowned for 
its breathtaking landscapes. 
This summer, a team of Ameri- 
can Museum experts, sailing 
aboard the comfortable Polaris, 
will explore a region character- 
ized by fjords, glaciers, moun- 
tains icebergs and ice floes. 

Beginning in Bergen, we will sail north along the coast of 
Norway, visiting spectacular Geirangerfjord, the mountainous 
Lofoten Islands and mist-shrouded Bear Island. Our final 
destination is Spitsbergen, a spectacular group of ice-covered 
islands just 625 miles from the North Pole. Join us as we search 
for polar bear, walrus, seal, reindeer, Arctic fox, orca, sperm 
whale and numerous species of birds beyond the North Cape. 

Museum of 
\>w^mw History 
Discovery Cruises 

Central Park 'West at 79th Street 

New York, NY 10024-5192 

Toll-free (800) 462-8687 or 

in NYS (212) 769-5700 

Rediscover Your World 

Crusaders of the Lost Park 

by Joseph L. Sax 

The story is true, but it reads more like 
a scenario for an Indiana Jones movie than 
like an account of a scientific expedition. 
The tale goes something like this: Mark 
and Delia Owens are ousted from Bot- 
swana because they had publicized the toll 
commercial ranching was taking on the 
desert's wildlife, so the Owenses seek a 
new place in which to continue their re- 
search on the social life of lions. They de- 
cide on North Luangwa National Park in 
Zambia, a roadless, uninhabited area the 
size of Delaware and home to zebras, hip- 
pos, buffaloes, crocodiles, lions, and — 
ominously, as it turns out — thousands of 

The Owenses settle in to begin their 
work. Their basic equipment is a Toyota 
Land Cruiser and a Cessna 180K, which 
Mark uses to track the wildlife they have 
collared. But the park is not the untram- 
meled wildemess it appears to be. It is a 
vast elephant killing field. Day after day 
the same scene is repeated. A cloud of vul- 
tures appears, and smoke is seen rising 
from a fire. The remains of slaughtered 
elephants litter the ground. Often the ele- 
phant hunters can be seen from the air, sit- 
ting near a fire roasting huge pieces of 

The Eye of the Elephant: An Epic Ad- 
venture IN the African Wilderness, by 
Delia and Mark Owens. Houghton Mifflin 
Co., $22.95; 305 pp., illus. 

meat they will sell. Ivory is waiting nearby 
to be carted away. Everything is blatantly 
illegal, but the poachers operate openly in 
the remote savanna. 

The Owenses see an opportunity to use 
their presence and equipment to bring an 
end to the wanton killing. There are game 
guard stations on the park boundaries, and 
Mark and Delia anticipate spotting poach- 
ers from the air, notifying the park author- 
ities by plane and radio, and directing 
them to the scene. But it is not quite so 
simple, as the following passage (a typical 
one) reveals. Delia relates how, when 

Mark discovers elephants being slaugh- 
tered, they rush to the nearest station: 

A few scouts stand around, leaning against 
the truck. Tapa... yawns. Nelson 
Mumba . . . walks away. . . . 

"We have no ammunition," Zulu tells us. 

"What happened to it?" Mark asks. Mosi 
Salma, the warden in Mpika, swore to us 
that each man had been given his monthly 
allotment of five rounds. The scouts look at 
each other, speaking in Chibemba. As be- 
fore, all agree that they have not received 
their allotment. . . . 

Mark senses a faint willingness in Phiri 
[one of the guards]. "Mr. Phiri, I will pay 
every man who comes with us two hundred 
kwachas for each poacher he catches." 

"But we have no food for patrol," says 

"We will give you food," I interject. 

Eventually six of them agree to come, but 
they will need two hours to get packed. 

We urge them to hurry, so that we can 
catch the poachers before daybreak, but 
Phiri tells us, "We cannot patrol at night.. . ." 

The reader catches on pretty quickly, 
but the Owenses apparently take a good 
deal longer. For many months they try to 
mobilize the park guardians into action. 
They provide the game guards with food 
and ammunition, transportation, cash 
bounties, clothing, and even an educa- 
tional program. Nothing works. Delia 
laments, "with each discovery we plead 
with the game guards to go on patrol, but 
there is always some reason why they can- 
not. They have not mounted a single patrol 
on their own since we arrived last year." 
Of course it is not just that the game 
guards won't catch poachers. They are 
poachers themselves, and are employed by 
other poachers as well. So is the chief war- 
den, and the district governor, and others, 
all the way up to the minister. Instead of 
receiving help from the government, Mark 
was charged with operating an airstrip 
without a license, and with unauthorized 
use of radios. 

The Owenses were discovering that — 
to paraphrase an old-time Chicago alder- 
man upon being confronted with evidence 
of flagrant corruption — "Zambia ain't 

ready for reform." Mark and Delia are ob- 
viously not easily discouraged. Delia 
began an imaginative program, focused 
largely on children, to teach conservation, 
even importing copies of the children's 
magazine Ranger Rick. They also 
preached the benefits of tourism, poindng 
out that elephants could be worth more 
alive than dead. And they instituted theu- 
own little AID program, trying to implant 
sustainable cottage industries to wean vil- 
lagers off the poaching economy. 

Meanwhile the poaching continued, 
and Mark, frustrated by his inability to get 
the game guards to act, strapped on his 
pistol, got into his plane, and constituted 
himself a one-man army. The poachers 
struck back at anyone who helped the 
Owenses. At one point, Mark reports: 

Gunshots shatter the darkness outside. . .bul- 
lets punch through the walls, kicking out 
puffs of dust and dry clods of dirt.... [The 
poachers] have poisoned. . .two of our other 
men. Clearly, they are upping the ante. If 
they can do it, so can I. But I will have to do 
it alone. I've had it with scouts. 

What makes the book seem like a Hol- 
lywood concoction are the events that fol- 
low. Mark harasses the poachers by plane, 
buzzing their camps, flying at treetop 
level, scattering fliem and making them 
abandon their take. He single-handedly 
flies game guards to remote airstrips, 
packs them off toward poachers' camps, 
and drops supphes to them. The guards 
don't do much of anything once they get 
there, but their presence is disruptive. 
When that doesn't work, Mark attacks the 
poachers with firecrackers, dropping 
cherry bombs (no kidding!) from the 
plane. For a while it works. Until they fig- 
ure out that the firecrackers are harmless, 
poachers stay clear of the park. 

On another occasion Mark hears that 
the park warden is about to release a noto- 
rious poacher who has finally been ar- 

"Oh no he's not!" Mark shouts over the 
mike. "Don't let anything happen! I'll be in 
Mpika in thirty minutes." Mark jumps into 

90 Natural History 3/93 


the plane and flies to Mpika.... No doubt a 
bribe has changed hands, but this time it 
won't work. . . . Mark roars up to Mpondo's 
Roadside Bar and jams on the brakes, a 
cloud of dust swirling behind him. He 
marches inside the ramshackle building and 
looks around the dimly lit room. 

Mark sees that handcuffs are slapped on 
the malefactor and personally leads him 
away to be interrogated. 

Needless to say, all this makes for fasci- 
nating reading and even a happy ending. 
Delia and Mark survive to write the book. 
Delia reports that when they arrived in 
1986 the elephants of North Luangwa Na- 
tional Park were being poached at the rate 
of a thousand each year. By the end of 
1991 that number had been reduced to 
twelve. Events outside Zambia con- 
tributed significantly to that outcome. In 
1989 the United States, the European 
Community, Canada, Switzerland, and the 
United Arab Emirates imposed a ban on 
the importation of ivory. The U. N. Con- 
vention for International Trade in Endan- 
gered Species voted to list the African ele- 
phant as an endangered species. The sale 

of all elephant parts was prohibited for two 
years beginning in 1990. A number of 
African nations (including Zambia, on and 
off) agreed to support an international ban 
on the ivory trade. In 1991 a new govern- 
ment came into office in Zambia, replac- 
ing the previously corrupt regime. The 
new president, Frederick Chiluba, made a 
commitment to conserve Zambia's natural 
resources, including its wildlife. 

For all the sometimes-comical heroics. 
The Eye of the Elephant is a serious book 
about a grave problem, and the 
Owenses — ah"eady well known for their 
1984 work, Cry of the Kalahari — are 
courageous figures in the effort to protect 
the diminishing wildlife of Africa. The 
book makes clear their appreciation of the 
difficulty of making a sustainable, ecolog- 
ically compatible economy a reality in 
places like central Africa. It also reveals 
how narrow the window of opportunity 
can be. Great effort notwithstanding, there 
may be nothing left to save by the time 
governments and the international com- 
munity get organized to act. Zambia alone 
lost 80 percent of its elephants in one dec- 

Wheii poac liin^ was suppressed in Zambia 's North Luangwa National Park, 
elephants again began to drink at the rivers by day. 

ade. With statistics like these, the frustra- 
tion that led to Mark Owens's exploits is 

The Eye of the Elephant is a provoca- 
tive, disturbing, and eminently readable 
work. One cannot put the book down with- 
out reflecting on the bizarre global econ- 
omy that produced the circumstances the 
Owenses describe. Somewhere far away, 
and despite the ghastly history of the ivory 
trade, people wanted ivory badly enough 
to bid the price up to nearly $150 per 
pound. An African elephant's tusks may 
weigh several hundred pounds. Yet the 
people of the Luangwa Valley received 
only $10 to kill an elephant, and even then, 
with the poaching economy at its height, 
they continued to live a simple, even mar- 
ginal, existence. The benefits went to the 
big-time poachers and to corrupt officials 
who were running the country. Its wildlife 
is one of Zambia's most precious assets, 
yet its government was unable to mobilize 
itself to protect the natural heritage. 

Two Americans literally dropped out of 
the sky and appointed themselves the 
guardians of the country's wildlife. Ad- 
mirable and decent as they are, it is impos- 
sible to read the Owenses' description of 
their work in Zambia — exchanging trin- 
kets and sewing machines for promises 
not to poach — without thinking of the 
missionaries of another time and how little 
they really understood the people to whom 
they preached. The Owenses' gospel is the 
gospel of tourism. Perhaps they are right. 
Perhaps they are prescribing good eco- 
nomics. But I wonder what the people of 
the Luangwa Valley really think. And I 
wonder if there is not something more to 
be said in favor of the existence of the 
largest living land mammal. 

Joseph L Sax is James H. House and 
Hiram H. Hurd Professor of Environmen- 
tal Regulation at the Universit}' of Califor- 
nia at Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of 
Law. He is the author o/ Mountains With- 
out Handrails: Reflections on the National 


Jll^ Marl^t 


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92 Natural History 3/93 



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At the American Museum of Natural History 

Charles Wagley's Amazon 

American anthropologist Charles Wa- 
gley's pioneering fieldwork among Am- 
azonian peoples will be the subject of an 
exhibition in Akeley Gallery. Indios e 
Caboclos: Charles Wagley's Amazon 
Portrait opens Friday, March 12, and 
features his photographs as well as 
works from his collection of central 
Amazonian ethnographic art and Brazil- 
ian folk art. 

The Human Brain 

Left- and right-brain maps, the evolu- 
tion of language, and brain adaptations 
to environmental factors will be among 
the topics discussed in talks by Michael 
Gazzaniga, of the University of Califor- 
nia at Davis's Center for Neurobiology; 
Steven Pinker, of MIT's Department of 
Brain and Cognitive Sciences; and Ira B. 
Black, chairman of the Department of 
Neuroscience and Cell Biology at the 
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. 
The series, marking the "Decade of the 
Brain" and the opening in May of the 
Museum's Hall of Human Biology and 
Evolution, will be held in the Kaufmann 
Theater on Tuesdays, March 2, 9, and 
16, at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for all three lec- 
tures are $30 ($27 for members). Call 
(212) 769-5310 for information. 

Giants of Polar Exploration 

Heroic journeys and feats of individ- 
ual endurance have characterized explo- 
ration of the north and south polar re- 
gions. Kenneth A. Chambers, a retired 
Museum lecturer in zoology and explo- 
ration, will talk about the expeditions of 
Fridtjof Nansen, Sir Ernest Shackleton, 
Roald Amundsen, and Sir Douglas 
Mawson on four consecutive Thursday 
evenings starting March 18 at 7:00 rm. 
in the Kaufmann Theater. Tickets for the 
series are $35. Call (212) 769-5310 for 

tlwanaku, an ancient 

New research in Peru, Chile, and Bo- 
livia has documented the statecraft, reh- 
gion, art, science, and culture of Ti- 
wanaku, an excavated city-state high up 
in the southern Andes at 12,000 feet. 

American Museum archeologist Paul 
Goldstein will talk about the domination 
of Tiwanaku in ancient times, almost 
1 ,000 years before the arrival of the Inca. 
The slide-illustrated lectures will be on 
two Mondays, March 1 and 8, at 7:00 
p.m. in the Kaufmann Theater. A ticket 
for both talks is $25. Call (212) 769- 
5310 for information. 

The Soviet Space Program 

Russian cosmonaut Georgi M. 
Grechko, of the Laboratory for Atmos- 
pheric Research in Moscow, wiU recount 
his career in the once top-secret Soviet 
space program. The slide-illustrated talk 
will be held in the Planetarium's Sky 
Theater on Wednesday, Maich 3, at 7:30 
p.m. Tickets are $8 ($6 for members). 

Jumbo and his Relations 

Jumbo's capture in 1861 in Africa, 
and his subsequent fame in England and 
in the United States, aroused widespread 
public curiosity about the hitherto un- 
known African elephant. Richard Van 
Gelder, former curator of the Museum's 
Department of Mammalogy, will talk 
about the African elephant's natural his- 
tory on Saturday, March 13, at 2:00 p.m. 
in the Linder Theater Call (212) 769- 
5310 for information. 

Quincentennial Perspectives 

The Museum's education department 
continues to present free programs on 
the Columbus Quincentenary, this 
month focusing on cultures and tradi- 
tions of women after European contact. 
On Sunday. March 7, the Sullivan 
Street Players explore issues of women 
coming of age in today's world. High- 
lighting the African pantheon of female 
divinities in Cuba, Haiti, and Brazil, Ju- 
dith Samuel-Rock and Children of Da- 
homey will present a dance program en- 
titled "Sisters" on Wednesday, March 
10, at 7:30 p.m. in the Main Auditorium. 
North and South American native cul- 
tures will be celebrated in the Museum 
halls of Ocean Life and Invertebrates on 
Sunday, March 14. Three New Mexican 
women's personal narratives — known as 
mitote, or "woman talk" — will be per- 
formed as a one-act drama on Sunday, 
March 28. 

Programs will also take place each 
weekend in the Leonhardt People Cen- 
ter. Highlights include the traditional and 
contemporary music of Native Ameri- 
cans by Pure Fe and Soni; music and 
dance by Marilyn Worrell and Phylhs 
Bethel depicting a woman slave's pas- 
sage; and Carmelita Tropicano's per- 
spective on being a Latina. For a full 
schedule of events, caU (212) 769-5315. 

Echo of the Elephants 

Cynthia Moss, senior associate with 
the African Wildlife Foundation, will 
speak about her latest work in Kenya's 
Amboseli National Park with the four- 
teen-member elephant family presided 
over by the matriarch Echo. In eighteen 
months of following Echo and her kin. 
Moss was able to observe closely the 
group's day-to-day behavior. The talk 
will be on Thursday, March 4, at 7:30 
p.m. in the Main Auditorium. Tickets are 
$12 ($8 for members). 

Making Silent Stones Speak 

Using evidence from the savannas of 
East Africa, the plains of northern China, 
and the mountains of New Guinea, ar- 
cheologist Nicholas Toth will discuss 
Stone Age tool use. The program, on 
Tuesday, March 9, at 7:00 p.m. in the 
Kaufmann Theater, is presented in con- 
junction with the opening of the Mu- 
seum's Hall of Human Biology and Evo- 
lution. Tickets are $7 (members free). 

From Nefertiti to Cleopatra 

Priestesses played key roles alongside 
the Pharaohs in ancient Egypt. Robert 
Steven Bianchi, J. Clawson Mills Fellow 
at the MetropoMtan Museum of Art, will 
talk about male-female relationships in 
ancient Egypt on Friday, March 19, at 
7:00 RM. in the Kaufmann Theater Tick- 
ets are $10 ($6 for members). 

These events take place at the American 
Museum of Natural History, located on 
Central Park West at 79th Street in New 
York City. The Leonhardt People Center 
and the Kaufmann and Linder theaters 
are in the Charles A. Dana Education 
Wing. The Museum has a pay-what- 
you-wish admission policy. Call (212) 
769-5 100 for Museum information. 

94 Natural History 3/93 

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A Matter of Taste 

The Teff Also Rises 

Did the first naturally fermenting sourdough bread originate in Ethiopia? 
by Raymond Sokolov 

At the height of the cruel Mengistu 
regime in Ethiopia in 1985, 1 made a mod- 
est proposal in this magazine for exerting 
indirect pressure on that government to 
persuade it to treat its starving people with 
greater compassion. 

My plan did not involve an expedi- 
tionary force of American soldiers such as 
recently went to Somalia to guard convoys 
of food. In fact, all I wanted was to divert 
some of the immense capacity of U. S. 
agriculture to the cultivation of Ethiopia's 
staple grain Eragrostis abyssinica, called 
teff in the classical language of Ethiopia, 
Amharic. The grain yields a tiny seed, 
about one hundred-fiftieth the size of a 
wheat grain, but that smallest of all culti- 
vated grains is the basis of Ethiopian tradi- 
tional cookery. Teff flour is the main in- 
gredient of the spongy, pleasantly sour 
pancakelike bread known as injera, which 

Uterally underlies every Ethiopian meal. 
To set an Ethiopian table, one lays down a 
circular injera on top of which the other 
food is arrayed, directly, without the inter- 
mediary of any plate. Other injeras are 
served on the side and torn into pieces to 
be used as grabbers for the food on the 
"tablecloth" injera. Eventually, after the 
meal is finished, you eat the tablecloth, a 
dehcious repository of the juices from the 
food that has been resting on it. 

This method of eating is certainly 
worlds away from my own traditions, but 
it has had an immediate appeal for me and 
everyone I know who has tried it. And a 
large part of that appeal has been the op- 
portunity to share in the refinement and 
wholeness of a very old and independent 
culture's foodways, right down to the table 
manners. But on its home ground in 
Ethiopia, this idyllic injera-centered cui- 

A woman cleans tejj in the Gondar region of Ethiopia. 

Haroldo and Flavia de Faria Castro; PPG 

sine was in dire trouble. During the cata- 
strophic famine years under Mengistu, teff 
production had declined abruptly, and 
people were reportedly consuming the 
seed stock. Upon hearing this, my first as- 
sumption was that enlightened efforts at 
food relief could bring teff from the out- 
side into Ethiopia. But teff did not really 
exist as a crop anywhere else. So it began 
to look as if traditional Ethiopian cuisine 
were doomed. 

Of course, the Ethiopians could survive 
on other grains. They could even make 
perfecdy traditional types of injera from 
sorghum, wheat, millet, rice, com, and 
barley. And that is precisely what they 
were doing in the restaurants they estab- 
hshed in exile in New York, Washington, 
and other American cities. Nevertheless, it 
seemed tragic that teff should drop firom 
view and, with it, one of the most defining 
features of an ancient way of life. 

Fortunately, there was a way of saving 
teff, nonviolently, through a strategy of 
agronomic bootstrapping that might even 
save Ethiopia. It turned out that there was 
a modest seed stock for teff in the United 
States. My friend, the gardening writer 
Patti Hagan, located a suppUer in Nevada 
selling teff seed to American gardeners 
who wanted to plant it as an ornamental 
grass (the company's dehghtful name and 
address — Garden Magic of Zephyr Cove, 
Nevada — matched teff's vernacular Eng- 
lish name, "love grass," a direct translation 
of its Greek-derived genus). 

My idea was for the Department of 
Agriculture to use the Nevada seeds to 
jump-start a commercial crop of teff. In 
short order, I argued, there would be a 
large enough supply of the grain to black- 
mail Mengistu into concessions on human 
rights. He could have our teff if he cleaned 
up his act. 

96 Natural History 3/93 


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Ronald Reagan's Department of Agri- 
culture paid no attention to me. Eventu- 
ally, it didn't matter. Mengistu fell anyway. 
And at least one American grower went 
ahead and raised teff in serious quantity as 
a cash crop: Wayne Carlson of Caldwell, 
Idaho. You can find his teff for sale today 
in many health food stores. 

Nutrition-minded Americans have 
turned to teff as a source of calcium, fiber, 
and protein. It is also an alternative grain 
for people allergic to the gluten in wheat. 
It has an appealing, sweet, molasseslike 
flavor. And it boils up into a gelatinous 

So, no doubt unwittingly, Mr. Carlson 
has made my dream come true in a small 
way. His teff crop makes it possible for ex- 
iled Ethiopians to make injera in this 
country. Indeed, the largest Ethiopian 
community in America, in the Washington 
metropolitan area, has its own injera bak- 
ery as well as Ethiopian groceries that sell 
authentic teff injera in plastic packages. 

This is an obvious boon for Ethiopian 
immigrants, who have also found ways of 
providing themselves with other crucial 
elements of their unique cuisine, from 
honey beer to false banana {Ensete edule). 
But for non-Ethiopian cooks, one of the 
unforeseen advantages of a ready supply 
of teff is that it offers an alternative route 
for the investigation of one of the myster- 
ies of the kitchen, sourdough baking. 

Injera is, among other things, a first 
cousin of the sourdough breads that have 
made specialty bakers in San Francisco, 
Paris, and lately New York famous and 
even revered. In the food press, much ink 
has been spilled over the essential mystery 
of sourdough — how to start it, how to feed 
it, how to keep it from getting too sour or 
from losing its fennentational oomph. 

Part of the attraction of this subject is 
that no one really understands it. No one 
can say for sure what the sources of the 
souring are that make the dough — and the 
bread baked from it — so delicious. Afi- 
cionados do, however, agree on one thing: 
They don't use commercial yeast. For peo- 
ple like John Thome, publisher of the 
quarterly food letter "Simple Cooking" 
and author of the gastronomic essay col- 
lection Outlaw Cook (Farrar. Straus and 
Giroux, 1992), and Jeffrey Steingarten, 
food columnist for Vogue, superior sour- 
dough bread rises because of the symbi- 
otic action of "wild" yeasts and naturally 
occurring lactobacilli. 

This is an exceedingly complicated sub- 
ject, to which I intend to return. But the 
basic idea is that the best bread is made by 

98 Natural History 3/93 

duplicaring the conditions of the first 
yeast-risen bread. 

Clearly, the first bakers of prehistory 
could not buy packaged yeast. They in- 
vented leavened bread by baking moist- 
ened flour that had begun fermenting 
spontaneously. The carbon dioxide pro- 
duced as a byproduct of the normal activ- 
ity of a yeast culture present in the air or in 
the wheat itself bubbled inside the moist- 
ened flour (dough) and made it double in 

Wheat flour, which contains elastic 
gluten, rose especially well and, if treated 
properly in an oven, would retain the ex- 
panded cell structure produced by the gas 
even after the gas escaped during the bak- 
ing process. Voila\ — leavened bread, hall- 
mark of civilization at least as far back as 
the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. You 
will recall that they fled so quickly they 
didn't have time to wait for their bread to 
rise. So they ate flat bread, or matzo, re- 
membered now at Passover meals as the 
bread of affliction. 

So the Bible tells us two things about 
normal bread in ancient days: it was yeast- 


% cup teff. ground fine (this may be 
done either in a flour mill or in a 
blender after moistening in 3'A 
cups water) 
Sunflower or other vegetable oil 

1. Mix ground teff with 3'A cups water 
and let stand in a bowl covered with a 
dish towel, at room temperature, until 
it bubbles and has turned sour. This 
may take as long as 3 days. The fer- 
menting mixture should be the con- 
sistency of pancake batter (which is 
exactly what it is). 

2. Stir in salt, a little at a time, until you 
can bai-ely detect the taste. 

3. Lightly oil an 8- or 9-inch skillet (or 
a larger one if you like). Heat over 
medium heat. Then proceed as you 
would with a normal pancake or 
crepe. Pour in enough batter to cover 
the bottom of the skillet. If you use a 
teacup as a dipper, a little more than 
half its capacity of batter (about 'A 
cup) will make a thin pancake cover- 
ing the surface of an 8-inch skillet if 
you spread the batter around immedi- 
ately after pouring it in, by turning 
and rotating the skillet in the air This 
is the classic French method for very 
thin crepes. Injera is not supposed to 
be paper thin so you should use a bit 
more batter than you would for 
crepes but less than you would for a 

risen and the rising was time-consuming. 
It also seems likely that bakers back then 
operated the way aficionados do today, 
saving some of their active dough as a 
starter or "chef for future dough batches. 
In this way they would have preserved a 
successful yeast/bacteria symbiosis that 
was functional, produced a pleasant-tast- 
ing loaf, and resisted infiltration from 
other, noxious microorganisms. 

The custom of saving a piece of dough 
is still a symbolic part of the Jewish rihial 
of baking Sabbath bread. Originally, an 
olive-sized piece of moistened dough was 
separated from the rest, before baking, and I 
given away, presumably as a sacrifice of j 
something valuable, to the priests. Pious 
Jewish women today bum the dough as a | 
sign that it is not theirs any longer. 

Jewish ritual also recognizes the om- 
nipresence of wild yeast. In an effort to I 
give a precise definition to the idea of un- 
leavened bread, rabbinical law goes be- 
yond merely proscribing the addition of 
yeast to moistened flour. Bakers of proper 
matzo must put the dough in the oven 
within eighteen minutes of moistening the 

4. Cook briefly, until holes form in the 
injera and the edges lift from the pan. 
Remove and let cool. 

Yield: 10 to 12 injeras 


Sunflower water mixed with injera 

(Adapted from Exotic Ethiopian 

Cooking, by Daniel J. Mesfin, 

Ethiopian Cookbook Enterprise, 


2 cups sunflower seeds 

2 cups green (raw) jalapeno 

chilies, seeded and chopped 
'A teaspoon onion, chopped 
'A teaspoon ginger, chopped 
'A teaspoon garlic, chopped 


4 to 6 slices injera 

1. Boil sunflower seeds in 6 cups of 
water for 15 minutes. Remove from 
heat, and drain off liquid. 

2. Grind seeds in a blender to a paste. 

3. Combine paste in a bowl, and add 4 
cups water. 

4. Mix and then stiain liquid into a 
bowl. Discard paste. 

5. Stir in jalapeiios, onion, ginger, and 
salt to the strained liquid. 

6. Break injera into small pieces and 
combine with liquid mixture. Re- 
frigerate, and serve cold in a bowl. 

Yield: 4 to 6 servings 

flour, to prevent leavening through the 
onset of the fermentation of naturally oc- 
curring yeasts. In order to insure that no 
improper or premature moistening takes 
place, the orthodox begin supervising 
matzo flour when it is threshed. This spe- 
cially ""watched" matzo. called shmura 
matzo. is always handmade. It is the polar 
opposite of the handmade loa\es of the 
neo-Talmudic sourdough aficionados. 

WTien I originally heard about the Jew- 
ish strictures on grain moistening at 
Passover. I dismissed them as. well. Phari- 
saical, but that was before I had read John 
Thome on the subject of wild \easts and 
heirloom sourdough starters handed down 
for generations because of their estimable 
qualities. Thome and the other aficionados 
are almost as obsessional about other as- 
pects of breadbaking — rising baskets, 
woodbuming ovens, bread cloches. But 
the notion of spontaneously femienting 
sourdough is at the center of their preoccu- 
pations (their quasi-scientific experimen- 
tations recall Pasteur"s re\olutionary in- 
vestigation of the misconception known in 
his day as spontaneous generation, which 
led him to unlock the mystery of the 
chemistry of fermentation in an experi- 
ment that inaugurated the science of bacte- 

Thome and compan\. all eloquent pros- 
elytizers for wild yeast sourdoughs, seem 
to have overlooked a large group of poten- 
tial co-conspirators among injera bakers in 
Ethiopia and the world o\'er. Perhaps this 
is because most published recipes for in- 
jera obscure its historic identity as a true 
self-fermenting sourdough. Modern 
recipes written in this country usually 
specif)' the addition of yeast or the use of 
self-rising flour (which contains commer- 
cial yeast). But even these adaptations to 
Ufe in exile in America call for a classic 
sourdough waiting period of two to three 
days while the dough for teff injera fer- 
ments and sours. 

I am in no position to make sophisti- 
cated aesthetic distinctions between nam- 
rally fermented teff batters and those made 
with commercial American yeasts, but it 
does seem obvious that the no-yeast recipe 
collected by Steve Raichlen and published 
in the Washington Post, which I have 
adapted here, must reflect traditional prac- 
tice in the ancient kingdom of the Queen 
of Sheba before her descendants leamed 
new tricks in our midst. 

Raymond Sokolov is a writer whose spe- 
cial interests are the history and prepara- 
tion of food. 



Stepping Stones of Culture 
June 29 - July 13, 1993 

The islands of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, among the 
loveliest in the world, are steeped in myth, legend and history. 
This summer, a team of American Museum and guest lecturers 
invite you to join them for a special voyage among these islands 
aboard the luxurious Aurora I. Cushioned bet\veen visits to the 
great cities of Athens and Barcelona, we will enjo}' the dramatic 
landscapes, archeological sites, historic towns and charming 
villages of Santorini, Crete. 
Malta. Sicily, the AeoUan 
Islands. Ponza, Corsica and 
Sardinia. Join us for an 
unforgettable Mediterranean 

Museum of 
Discovery Cruises 

Central Park West at 79th Street 

New York. NY 10024-5192 

Toll-free (800) 462-8687 

or in NYS (212) 769-5700 

Rediscover Your World 


Look Maw, 
No Teeth! 

Maneuvering through a school of fish 
near Little Cayman Island, a manta ray 
with its mouth agape scoops up a 
nighttime snack. According to one 
ichthyologist, the small fish may be 
sufficiently panicked by the approaching 
ray to dart into its cavemous mouth 
seeking shelter. Just in case this doesn't 
happen, the manta ray uses the "cephalic" 
fins on each side of its head to funnel 
prey into its maw. When the animal is not 
feeding, these fins, which are distinctive 
to manta rays, are kept coiled in two 
hornlike corkscrews in front of its eyes, 
giving rise to the manta ray's other 
common name, the devil fish. 

This manta ray measures about eight 
feet from wing tip to wing tip, but other 
individuals of the species Manta biwstris 
often exceed twenty feet in width. To trap 
enough food as they move through the 
water, manta rays have evolved gills that 
double as strainers, the same equipment 
employed by their distant relatives, the 
enormous whale shark and basking shark. 
The gill rakers, which are visible on the 
bottom of the manta ray's mouth, collect 
small organisms, such as plankton, fish, 
or crustaceans, from the water just before 
it flows through openings on the animal's 
underside. This adaptation is so effective 
that the manta ray has all but lost the need 
for its tiny vestigial teeth. — R. A. 

Photograph by Franklin J. Viola 



■J »'* 



~ :•-. 



'..-■■ :■ '''S' 

■L ' 









"mm, , 

Since 1982, Karen B. Strier (page 34) 
has been investigating the life and times of 
muriquis, the largest New World monkeys. 
Her observations of the species' behavior 
and biology will, she hopes, help in the ef- 
fort to conserve both the animals and their 
dwindling Atlantic forest habitat in Brazil. 
An associate professor of anthropology at 
the University of Wisconsin in Madison, 
Strier considers herself lucky to do field 
research and teach about the value of na- 
ture. She has written Faces in the Forest: 
The Endangered Muriqui Monkeys of 
Brazil (New York and Oxford: Oxford 
University Press, 1992), and for further 
reading she recommends Ecology and Be- 
havior of Neotropical Primates, edited by 
R. A. Mittermeier et al. (Washington, 
D.C.: World Wildlife Fund, 1988). 

William A. Shear's (page 46) interest 
in soil animals stems from his undergradu- 
ate days when he learned the Berlese tech- 
nique, a way of sieving a community of 
hundreds of minute creatures from a small 
amount of soil and leaf Utter. "Getting a 
Berlese sample," says Shear, "is like get- 
ting a Christmas present." He went on to 
earn a doctorate in evolutionary biology 
from Harvard and, over time, he has car- 
ried over his enthusiasm for living arthro- 
pods into paleontological studies of some 
of the earliest terrestrial animals. Shear 
and colleagues have identified mites, spi- 
ders, centipedes, and pseudoscorpions — 
and some creatures with no modern 
analogs — from fossil deposits in New 

York, Scotland, and Wales. The abun- 
dance and diversity of these fossil animals 
and their probable ways of interacting 
with one another suggest that life on land 
was full blown even 400 million years ago. 
A professor of biology at Hampden-Syd- 
ney College in Virginia, Shear continues 
to study modem and fossil arthropods and 
plans to research the biogeography of liv- 
ing soil animals in the Pacific region. For 
more information, he refers readers to 
Colin Little's The Terrestrial Invasion 
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 
1990) and "The ecology of Paleozoic ter- 
restrial arthropods: The fossil evidence," 
by Shear and J. Kukalova-Peck {Canadian 
Journal of Zoology, vol. 68, p. 1807). 

The one-hundredth column in Robert 
Mohlenbrock's "This Land" series ap- 
pears this month (page 30). The assign- 
ment to cover the U. S. National Forests 
and similar natural areas has enabled him, 
he says, "to discover many hidden trea- 
sures and to meet many kindred spirits in 
North America." Since his retirement in 
1990 from the department of plant biology 

at Southern Ilhnois University, Mohlen- 
brock and his wife, Beverly, have traveled 
extensively and have formed Biotic Con- 
sultants, a biological consulting firm. 
Mohlenbrock teaches wetland plant iden- 
tification workshops all over the country, 
and has just completed a Field Guide to 
Western Wetland Plants, his fortieth book 
and the third in a series being prepared for 
the Soil Conservation Service. Mohlen- 
brock is also finishing up the fourteenth 
volume of his Illustrated Flora of Illinois 
and is at work on the third edition of his 
Guide to the Vascular Flora of Illinois. He 
serves as chairman of the North American 
Plant Specialists Group of the Interna- 
tional Union for the Conservation of Na- 
ture and is preparing the Red Data Books 
for endangered and threatened North 
American plants. i 

1 02 Natural History 3/93 



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American Museum. 9 x 12, 208pp 

Author of the "Worlds in Contact" col- 
umn, Natural History contributing editor 
Samuel M. Wilson (page 54) has been ex- 
amining Caribbean prehistory and con- 
tact-period history for the past ten years. 
He delights especially in rediscovering the 
stories of past individuals, the immediacy 
of which is sometimes obscured in acade- 
mic writings. He remembers the thrill of 
excavating an ancient storage pit in Illi- 
nois, leaning against a clay wall and find- 
ing his fingers resting in a handprint left by 
the person who had dug the pit 2,000 years 
earlier. An assistant professor of anthro- 
pology at the University of Texas, Austin, 
Wilson is the author of Hispaniola: Carib- 
bean Chiefdoms in the Age of Columbus 
(Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama 
Press, 1990) and co-editor, with J. Daniel 
Rogers, of Ethnohistory and Archeology: 
Approaches to Postcontact Change in the 
Americas (New York, Plenum Press, 
1993). For further information on the Jew- 
ish cemetery on Nevis or the synagogue, 
contact the Hamilton Museum, 
Charlestown, Nevis, West Indies. 

Franklin Jay Viola (page 100) holds 
his underwater camera in a photograph 
taken by his wife, Kathy. During a night 
dive near Little Cayman Island in the Car- 
ibbean, Viola photographed the manta ray 
in this month's "Natural Moment." The 
ray was performing barrel rolls while 
swimming through a school of small fish 
that had been attracted by bright lights 
shining down from the dive boat. A native 
of Houston, Texas, Viola received a degree 
in marine science and another in marine 
transportation at the Texas Maritime 
Academy at Texas A & M University at 

A native New Zealander, Ken R. 
Grange (page 60) has been diving in the 
fiords of South Island for more than ten 
years. He first learned of the fiords' unique 
marine communities in 1979 from col- 
leagues who had chaiced to explore the 
dark waters after they were forced to sail 
their research vessel into a fiord to seek 
shelter from a storm. Currently, Grange is 
a marine ecologist at the New Zealand 
Oceanographic Institute in Auckland and 
president of the New Zealand Marine Sci- 
ences Society. In addition to his studies of 
the biology of black corals and other ani- 
mals in the fiords. Grange conducts sur- 
veys of the marine ecosystems along the 
New Zealand coast, identifying those 
areas where protection and conservation 
are needed. Published accounts of the 
fiords' marine life are largely restricted to 
scientific papers, but for an overview of 
the Fiordland area. Grange recommends 
the park's own publication, Mountains of 
Water: the Story of Fiordland National 
Park (New Zealand Department of Lands 
and Survey, 1986). 


Walter M. Goldberg is pictured here 
sitting in front of a scanning electron mi- 
croscope, which he uses to probe the inner 
structure of corals, the focus of his re- 
search. Goldberg teamed up with Ken 
Grange to study the biology of black 
corals of New Zealand's fiords, after they 
met at a scientific conference in 1985. 
Goldberg, originally from Massachusetts, 
worked his way down the eastern seaboard 
while in college, ending up at the Univer- 
sity of Miami, where he earned a Ph.D. in 
marine biology in 1973. Currently, Gold- 
berg is chairman of the department of bio- 
logical sciences at Florida International 
University in Miami. His research of coral 
reef ecology has taken him all over the 
Caribbean and to various islands in the 
South Pacific. He is now studying the ef- 
fects of beach restoration on coral reefs. 
To save eroding beaches north of Miami, 
large volumes of sand are moved by barge 
or piped in from offshore sites, generating 
large plumes of turbid water Goldberg is 
tracking the health of corals exposed to 
various levels of turbidity to see what 
damage is being done. 

Galveston. He served as an officer in the 
U. S. Merchant Marine for six years, sav- 
ing enough money to pursue his passion 
for underwater photography. During his 
spare time in the merchant marine, Viola 
visited many of the worid's prime diving 
spots. He and Kathy, who now five near 
Atianta, Georgia, often return to many of 
those locations, where they organize sem- 
inars on marine biology and underwater 
photography. To photograph the manta 
ray, Viola used a Nikon F3 with a super- 
wide, 16mm fisheye lens and double Dee- 
lite 150 strobes. b 

104 Natural History 3/93 

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Vol. 102. No. 4, April 1993 

Cover: slowed down by the morning cold, this fly may prove a potent 
pollinator of flowers after it has warmed up. Story on page 30. 
Photograph by Robert McCaw. 

4 Letters 

6 The Human Strategy 

Elizabeth Wdmock Femea 
Cuisine of Survival 

14 This VeEW of Life Stephen Jay Gould 
The First Unmasking of Nature 

24 TmshMiTi Robert H. Mohlenbrock 
Simpson Township Barrens, Illinois 

28 Science Lite Roger l Weisch 

DerRing des Bubbalungen 

30 Pistil-packing Flies Carol a. Keams and David W. Inouye 

Many beautifid flowers of alpine meadows owe their e.xistence to some drab flies. 

38 Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Lake 

Josh Van Buskirk and David C. Smith 

On the rocky shores of Lake Superior, tiny frogs lay their eggs on the edge of disaster 

42 Teamwork Tactics lysa leland and Thomas T. Stnihsaker 

In a Uganda resene. colobus monkeys cooperate to escape from African crowned 
eagles, which cooperate to catch them. 

57 How Did Hunlans Get That Way? lan Tattersaii 

In conjunction with the opening of a new Hall of Human Biology and Evolution 
at the American Museum, Natural History' presents the first of two special 
sections about steps in our long, punctuated path to becoming humans. 

58 Egypt's Simian Spring Eiwyn Simons 

60 Frost and Found Torstein Sj0void 

64 Neptune's Ice Age Gallery Jean Clones and Jean Counin 

11 The Living Museum: Faux Lascaux jean-Francois Toumepiche 

88 Reviews John Aicock 

Of Pandas and Politics 

90 Celestial Events Gfl// 5. c/eere 

What's Your Sign? 

92 At the Ajvierican Museum of Natur.\l History 
94 A Matter of Taste Raymond Sokoiov 

The Bread Baker's Holy Grail 

98 The Natural Moment Photograph by Frans Laming 
Synchronized Sipping 

100 Authors 


* . h\ 


* '* 


i '' J 

K time ior a change to the wines cf Ernest and Jtilio Galla 

'.Vl' * ^ 


Ellen Goldensohn Mamigin/; Ediioi 
Thomas Page De'^igiier 

Board of Editors 

Robert B. Anderson, Florence G. Edelstetn, 

Rebecca B. Finnell, Jenny Lawrence. 

VirroRro Maestro. Richard Milner, Judy Rice, 

Kay Zakariasen (PicruRE.s) 

Contributing Editors 

Les Line, S.amuel M. Wilson 

Llsa Stillman Copy Editor 

Peggy Conversano Assi. Designer 

Mary Erin Cullen Editorial Assi. 

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Natural History OSSN (X)28-07i:) is published monlhly bj 
the American Museum of Njuiral History, Centinl Park West 
at79thStreeuNewyork,NY 10024 SubscnpDoii', 428 004 
year. In Canadu and all other tounmes $37 00 ,n >eai Sec- 
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Hi.Mi]ry: Send subscription orders and undeiiverablc copies to 
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Write to address below or call iSOOl 23-1-5252 d urgent Post- 
mtl,sten .Send address chances to Niiltiial Iliirpn PostOflicc 
Bos 5000, Htnlan lA S1537 5000 

Unsung Species Saviors 

Edwin Philip Pister wonderfully de- 
scribes carrying all the world's Owens 
pupfish in two buckets ("Species in a 
Bucket," January 1992). It's a moving 
story that makes this reader eager to learn 
the names of the other people who saved 
the species: the "researchers" who, in 
1964, found the remnant population in 
Fish Slough, and especially the alert assis- 
tant who, five years later, came into Pis- 
ter's office and announced, "Phil, if we 
don't get out to Fish Slough immediately, 
we're going to lose the species." 

Annte Dillard 
Middletown, Connecticut 

Edwin Philip Pister replies: 

Key players on that eventful afternoon 
of August 18, 1969, were the "alert assis- 
tant," UCLA graduate student Robert E. 
Brown, Jr., of Castle Rock, Washington, 
and John M. Deinstadt, then my assistant 
and now supervisor of the California De- 
partment of Fish and Game's wild trout 

The researchers who found the remnant 
population were the late Carl L. Hubbs, of 
Scripps Institution, and Robert Rush 
Miller, his son-in-law and former graduate 
student. Miller had described the Owens 
pupfish as part of his dissertation in 1948 
and feared it was approaching extinction. 
A combination of science and sentiment 
brought them to the Owens Valley in July 
1964 to check on the possibility of relocat- 
ing the pupfish population. Now professor 
emeritus at the University of Michigan at 
Ann Arbor. Miller remains one of the na- 
tion's preeminent ichthyologists. 

When Miller invited me to tag along on 
their reconnaissance trip, I assured my su- 
pervisor in Los Angeles that I would give 
them no more than a day of my time, be- 
cause "it is not uncommon for eminent in- 
dividuals to expect one to 'drop every- 
thing' during a visit of this type" (my exact 
words). That trip was my road to Damas- 
cus. Not only did I "drop everything," but 
I have never since bothered to pick it back 
up. If I had failed to accompany them, the 

Owens pupfish would probably now be 

The Right Catfish 

In "Family Planning, Amazon Style" 
(December 1992) there is a photograph of 
a Shipibo man skinning a catfish. The cap- 
tion identifies the fish as an armored cat- 
fish. It is, however, a member of one of the 
naked-skin catfish families, and because 
of the coloration of the dorsal and caudal 
fins (and including perhaps the adipose 
fin), I can with fair certainty identify it as 

Phractocephalus hemioliopterus. This 
species indeed grows to a length of 1.3 
meters and a weight of about 80 kilos, but 
most specimens caught in recent years are 
well below that maximum. 

Warren E. Burgess 
Neptune, New Jersey, 

Erratum: The editorial department re- 
grets that it was in error by a factor of ten 
in converting the weight of kinglets and 
chickadees from grams to ounces in 
"Kinglets' Realm of Cold" (February 
1993). As noted by several astute readers, 
kinglets weigh, not 2 ounces, but about .2 
ounces; chickadees about .4 ounces. 

4 Natural History 4/93 


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muuiu JO mm mm mmi 

The Human Strategy 

Cuisine of Survival 

In spite of food shortages and political turmoil, creative Iraqi cooks 
have been making delicious meals for centuries 

by Elizabeth Wamock Femea 

Maqluba means "upside down" in Ara- 
bic. During and since the Persian Gulf 
war, Iraq has become figuratively maq- 
luba: its homes and factories destroyed by 
bombing, its people torn by factional 
strife, its food and water supplies dis- 
rupted. The world watches as the Iraqis 
suffer from the expansionist foreign policy 
of their president, Saddam Hussein, and 
from the aggressive Allied responses that 
have followed. 

But maqluba is also the name of a par- 
ticularly mouthwatering Iraqi dish, one 
served to family and guests on special oc- 
casions. The week in 1958 that my hus- 
band. Bob, and I left Iraq after two years of 
social anthropological research in a south- 
em village, Sitt Samira, the mother of a 
close Baghdadi friend, made maqluba for 
us. Turned upside down (or right side up) 
on the festal table, the delicately browned 
maqluba looked Uke an exotic cake with- 
out icing. But when Sitt Samira ceremoni- 
ously cut into it, releasing a mist of appe- 
tizing steam, we realized that this was no 
cake but rather something we had never 
encountered in this form before — meat, 
vegetables, and rice, combined with un- 
known, aromatic spices. 

"You didn't find this in the village 
where you lived," Sitt Samira asserted, 
with the self-satisfied air of a recognized 
master chef. "After all," she added, "it's 
not so long since those people were Bed- 
ouin, right? And what did they eat? Dates 
and bread and camels' milk." 

"Meat too, when they could," put in 
Bob mildly. 

"Boiled meat!" Sitt Samira sniffed, re- 
flecting the disdain of the urban, cos- 
mopolitan Baghdadi (who has been at- 
tending to the requirements of haute 

cuisine for more than a thousand years) for 
the simple cooking techniques of the rural 
dweller and the nomad. But whether 
urban, mral, or nomadic, Iraqi cooking is 
distinguished by its antiquity. 

The rituals surrounding the offering and 
accepting of food are fixed and time-hon- 
ored. To neglect to serve something to eat 
or drink to guests, expected or unexpected, 
is a serious breach of polite behavior. To 
refuse food or drink, once offered, is just 
as serious. Before eating, one washes 
one's hands and offers thanks to God. In 
more traditional settings, conversing 
while eating is not considered appropriate; 
idle chatter would belittle the meal itself 

Originally part of Mesopotamia — 
roughly the area between the Zagros 
Mountains and the edge of the Arabian 
plateau — Iraq has been a nation only since 
1919, when the British and French carved 
up the Middle East at the Paris Peace Con- 
ference following World War I. The area, 
like the rest of the Middle East, had a long 
colonial past, and, with the exception of 
the British, each of its occupiers — Turks, 
Persians, and Arabs — left something of its 
own ways with food. The only British 
legacy seems to have been cornstarch pud- 
ding, but even this is a variation on an old 
Egyptian favorite, muhalabiyah, or milk 
pudding. The combination of ingredients 
in maqluba — lamb, eggplant, rice, onions, 
and tomato sauce — suggests a Turkish in- 
fluence, from the time when the Ottoman 
Empire loosely ruled most of the Middle 
East and Eastern Europe (ca. 1500 to 

But Bob and I never ate maqluba in the 
southern Iraqi village of Daghara, where 
we spent two years as guests of Sheik 
Mujid Atiyah Al-Shaalan almost thirty- 

five years ago. These villagers were Shiite 
Muslims and had resisted domination by 
the Turks, who were Sunni Muslims, 
gravitating instead toward predominantly 
Shiite Iran. We did have the good fortune, 
however, to eat faisanjun, that classic of 
Persian cuisine found in recipe books all 
over the world. Selma, the sheik's 
youngest wife — and by virtue of her 
beauty, youth, and strength the natural 
mistress of the sheik's household — pre- 
pared the dish to celebrate the end of two 
weeks of rain. 

We had no idea what to expect when we 
dutifully separated along the muddy path: 
Bob to dine with the men in the mudhiif, or 
guest house, and I to join the women in the 
sheik's private house. From the women's 
enthusiasm, I gathered that the coming 
meal would be unique. 

I was right. There was something spe- 
cial about the dish brought in by Selma. 
But when she removed the cover of the 
tray, my heart sank. The food was black. 
Dismay must have shown on my face for 
Selma laughed. "Just taste it," she said. A 
dish of sophisticated subtlety from Persia 
(now Iran), the faisanjun defied Sitt 
Samira's assertion that nothing is cooked 
in villages but dates and boiled meat. Con- 
sisting of chicken, walnuts, onions, and 
pomegranate juice (which turned the food 
hlack), faisanjun lacked the one thing ex- 
pected in all Middle Eastern dishes 
today — the tomato — and thus dates from 
before Columbus and the introduction of 
this New Worid fruit into the cookery of 
Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. 

The women in Daghara cooked every 
day. But since women did not usually ap- 
pear in public, each morning a son or a 
husband was dispatched to the market to 

6 Natural History 4/93 

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bring home a piece of meat, together with 
a selection of seasonal vegetables. The 
women supplemented these daily pur- 
chases with spices bought in bulk at the 
market and with ingredients from the pri- 
vate household stores "put up" at the time 
of harvest — rice, flour, garlic, clarified 
butter, or ghee, dried pomegranate, and 
tomato paste. On special occasions, a few 
raisins, pine nuts, or almonds from or- 
chards in the mountains of northern Iraq 
might be folded into a rice dish or a stew. 

The serving and eating of the food un- 
derscored hierarchal and familial relation- 
ships and Islamic injunctions to care for 
the less fortunate. The men ate first, older 
women next, children and wives after that. 
The leftovers went to servants, then to the 
poor, and finally — if any remained — to the 

What the family ate at home was private 
food. Public food was something else. In 
Daghara, food was a statement of political 
power. Two decades before we arrived, the 
British had suppressed the last uprising of 
the Diwaniyah tribes, and the area was 
controlled by the central government of 
Iraq under King Faisal II and President 
Nuri Said. But the tribes were still consid- 
ered important politically, and the govern- 

ment, recognizing our host. Sheik Mujid, 
as a tribal leader, had made him a member 
of the Iraqi National Parliament. 

The mudhiif was the sheik's office and 
reception room, where he saw clients and 
petitioners daily. In this impressive arched 
structure built entirely of reeds (reminis- 
cent of ancient Sumerian buildings), the 
sheik served lunch every day to travelers, 
tribal members, and those in need — all 
men. When we lived there in 1958, rural 
Iraq boasted no public hotels, and the 
mudhiif served a crucial function as an inn. 
One could sleep in the mudhiif as well as 
eat there. 

Each day the sheik's wives, sisters, and 
daughters cooked that free meal for 
twenty to sixty people. They worked hard, 
for the quality and quantity of the repast 
demonstrated the sheik's generosity and 
hospitaUty — and by imphcation his eco- 
nomic and political power. But the women 
did not publicly share the feast they had 
cooked; they ate by themselves. Selma su- 
pervised the loading of the trays with the 
food that had been prepared by all the 
women in the house. The boys and young 
men of the sheik's family bore the trays 
the hundred yards between the house and 
the mudhiif and sewed the meal. 

■me RSA^u £A-?t£l^ fSLAwD j 

The menu was simple, as Sitt Samira 
would have expected: rice, bread, marag 
(stew), one or two extra dishes, and per- 
haps a roast chicken for the sheik himself 
and his honored guests of the day. They 
might include a government official, an- 
other tribal sheik, a religious authority, or 
any person of high status who had busi- 
ness to conduct. Bob, as resident male 
guest, was usually included in the group. 
Wives of the sheik's guests were wel- 
comed in the private house to eat with the 
women after the men had finished. 

Sitt Sanura might have been surprised 
by some of the flourishes Selma managed, 
even with the limitations of the local mar- 
ket. Plain rice, piled high on a tray, was 
embellished with crispy bits of buttery 
cmst. Bits of meat were crumbled with 
onions and used as garnish, together with 
home-grown parsley. 

The bread was hot and fresh, baked 
each day in the lanour, the mud-brick oven 
that stood in every family courtyard. Flat, 
circular loaves, set to rise in the early 
morning, were clapped upright onto the 
insides of the tanour by the women of 
each household, who were careful to wet 
their amis to the elbows before braving the 
intense heat generated from the banked 
fire below. The trick was not in baking the 
bread (for the dough stuck to the sides eas- 
ily enough) but in retrieving it at the 
proper moment — just before it peeled off 
and was lost in the blaze. Selma was fond 
of varying the kinds of bread — mostly 
xubuz, simple wheat bread, but often xu- 
buz bi laham. not-so-simple wheat bread i 
baked with bits of meat, onions, and pars- 
ley. "A good way to use leftovers and be 
praised for it," Selma said, half-jokingly. 

The best bread was made of wheat flour, 
but because of overirrigation, the local 
farmland was salting up and hardier barley 
flour was mainly being grown in this 
whitening, salty soil. "Rougher, but ed- 
ible," Selma explained to me. "But I al- 
ways save some wheat flour to make better 
bread for the feasts." 

The feasts of lid al Fitr (marking the 
end of Ramadan, the month of fasting) and 
lid al Adha (commemorating Abraham's 
sacrifice) called forth all of the women's 
organizational and culinary talents. Dur- 
ing the three-day holiday, four or five hun- 
dred tribesmen (and some women) would 
come to pay their respects to the sherk and 
assure him of their loyalty. They tethered 
scores of horses near the mudhiif, partook 
of the great cormnunal repast, and gath- 
ered afterward for sessions of poetry and 
chanting. I 

8 Natural History 4/93 

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For these great occasions, sheep and 
sometimes a cow were slaughtered. The 
animals were often stuffed with mixtures 
of rice, spices, onions, and raisins and 
roasted whole; they were then cut into ed- 
ible pieces and arranged on enormous 
trays piled high with rice. Delicacies like 
liver and sheep's eyes were proffered by 
the sheik to special guests, sometimes to 
Bob. Women were not given sheep's eyes, 
and I was grateful in this case for my lowly 
status. (Bob told me the eyes were just hke 
lumps of fat and went down easily!) 

Everyday meals that Selma served were 
less dramatic and usually involved marag, 
a stew with vegetables that some have 
termed the national dish of Iraq. Marag, 
eaten by people in the countryside and 
city, by poor people and rich people, was 
eminently expandable or contractible, de- 
pending on the season and the family bud- 
get. Basic ingredients were meat, onions, 
garlic, spices, vegetables, and usually 
tomato paste. 

For the poor, a sliver of meat attached to 
a cracked bone or two provided flavor for 
a large broth of vegetables (spinach, egg- 
plant, okra, zucchini, green beans, peas, 
potatoes, and whatever else was in sea- 
son). A richer marag featured meat as the 
main ingredient, flavored by vegetables. 
Lentils, hma beans, and fava beans were 
used if no fresh vegetables were available. 
Variations on marag for those with limited 
budgets included lentils cooked with rice 
and tomato paste or rice cooked with 
sharia, a kind of angel hair pasta. 

With kubba, Selma could increase or 
decrease the amounts of expensive ingre- 
dients in a dish. The base of kubba was a 
mix of meat and wheat, pounded to a paste 
in a heavy mortar. This paste was layered 
in a pan, with more meat between layers in 
good times or more onions and spices in 
bad times, and then baked. The festal 
kubba that Bob and I sampled included 
pine nuts and raisins between the layers. 
Kubba could also be fashioned into 
smaller units, easier for children to eat. 
The paste was formed into a casing that 
could be smffed with a mix of nuts, raisins, 
spices, and meat (good times) or merely 
with onions and spices (bad times). If 
Selma had no meat or, alas, no wheat, she 
could still make kubba out of leftover rice 
pounded to a paste and then stuffed. The 
kubba morsels were deep-fried (like 
Scotch egg) and guaranteed to keep stom- 
achs full for many hours. 

The more time we spent in Daghara, the 
more we realized fliat the local cuisine was 
the result of a creative human process that 

had been going on for a very long time in- 
deed. We were in the heart of the Tigris- 
Euphrates valley, the legendary site of the 
Garden of Eden and also where settled 
agriculture (as well as writing) began be- 
fore 3000 B.C. 

Iraqis had lived for thousands of years 
in a relatively fixed and comparatively 
limited agricultoral environment of semi- 
arid land and limited water. (Iraq was just 
beginning to prosper from oil riches when 
we were there in 1958.) Beside tiiese an- 
cient culinary traditions, our own Ameri- 
can national dishes — hamburgers and 
steak, for example — seemed extravagant 
and even wasteful, since they depended 
for their succulence and flavor on the pres- 
ence of seemingly unlimited natural re- 
sources — water, land, trees, and fattened 
cattle. When I once tried to explain the 
American hamburger to Selma, she smiled 
patronizingly. "Half a pound of meat for 
one person? Ridiculous. It's not good for 

"Look at kufta or kebab," I said. "That's 
a lot of meat for one person, and it's grilled 
like hamburgers, too." 

"Yes, but that's when we've got lots of 
meat and don't want it to spoil. I can feed 
at least twenty-five people with half a 
pound of meat," she said triumphantly, 
"with dolma." 

She was right. For dolma, or stuffed 
grape leaves, one pound of meat and six 
cups of rice — mixed with onions, toma- 
toes, and spices — fifls a couple of hundred 
grape leaves or a reasonable number of 
tomatoes, onions, peppers, zucchini, or 
eggplant (anything that can be smffed). 

Selma steamed htrdobna in hindi\mct. 
obtained by soaking dried tamarind in 
water. The village of Daghara was close to 
the Euphrates, which ran flirough the Shatt 
al-Arab to flie sea and the city of Basra, a 
port of call for sailing ships long before 
Sinbad the Sailor was bom. Tatnarhindi 
reached the village from India, as did 
spices — cumin, cardamom, allspice, black 
pepper, cloves, cayenne, coriander, nut- 
meg, and cinnamon — and the technique 
for making curries and for preserving but- 
ter by clarifying it until it hardened into 
ghee. Thus, remote villages, disdained by 
Sitt Samira, had their culinary ties not only 
to other Arab countries, Turkey, and Persia 
but also the Far East. 

Patscha, consisting of the feet, head, 
bones, scraped stomach, and intestines of 
sheep, was another dish that demonstrated 
forcefully to us the use of every possible 
bit of edible food. These leftovers — 
throwaways in our society — were sim- 

10 Natural.History 4/93 

mered with onions and spices in a brotii 
that Selma served with hot flat bread. 

Many Iraqi dishes we sampled in those 
two years represented centuries-old efforts 
to ease pain and reduce the effects of dis- 
ease. Shaneena was a good example, a 
drink Selma offered me on an intensely 
hot summer day when I was ill. It con- 
sisted of equal parts of yogurt and water, 
plus salt — a perfect bromide for the in- 
tensely hot Iraqi summer, which can bring 
on dehydration first and then often disease 
when water supplies turn doubtful. People 
believed that the salt was good for dehy- 
dration and that the yogurt culture could 
somewhat alleviate the deleterious effect 
of ditch water. 

Selma knew how to make caraway tea 
for the stomach and cinnamon tea for a 
good taste. She also knew how to make 
chy hamudh, or lemon tea, which every- 
one in the village seemed to drink in the 
winter for colds and bronchitis. Lemon tea 
was made from niimi basra, the beloved 
hard-shelled, dark brown dried lemon that 
today is carried far from its origins — the 
southern city of Basra — to London and 
Zurich, Chicago and San Francisco, by 
Iraqis as gifts to other Iraqis in exile. 

We do not know what has happened to 
the Iraqi village where we lived almost 
thirty-five years ago. We have heard noth- 
ing since the war except indirectly, 
through friends of friends, that life is hard 
and food and medical supplies scanty. 

As the effects of the war begin to re- 
cede, however, Iraqis must be doing what 
ordinary people have always done when 
the clash of swords is stilled. After bury- 
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be making marag and patscha out of 
what's left, hoping for better days, when 
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faisanjun will once more be possible. 

Based on what's left and how many 
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This View of Life 

The First Unmasking of Nature 

Darwin 's revolution could proceed only after Linnaeus 
had revealed life's hidden order 

by Stephen Jay Gould 

I can't imagine two people in more inti- 
mate contact — just tiie tiniest sliver of a 
millimeter's separation — than the figures 
on the front and back of a bank note. We 
all know, of course, that the fall of any 

flower's petal reverberates throughout the 
universe to disturb the most distant gal- 
axy; therefore, these closer juxtapositions 
cannot be without deep meaning. 
During a recent visit to Sweden, I was 



dehghted to encounter the common Euro- 
pean practice of picturing scientists, rather 
than an uninterrupted parade of statesmen, 
on bank notes — for Linnaeus graces two 
Swedish bills, just as Italy features 
Galileo, and the old British pound note 
had Newton backing up the Queen. 
(America similarly honors both Jefferson 
and Franklin but not, I think, primarily for 
paleontology and electricity.) I was, how- 
ever, puzzled by a juxtaposition on the 
fifty kronor note: why do Linnaeus and 
King Gustav HI stand in such minimal 
proximity (they even look directly at each 
other if you hold the bill up to the light and 
scan both figures at once)? 

On one immediate level, the union 
poses no problem: both men were eminent 
and contemporary Swedes; Linnaeus 
lived from 1707 to 1778, and Gustav m, 
bom in 1746, reigned from 1771 to 1792. 
Their personal ties were not close, but they 
certainly appreciated each other. The older 
scientist flourished in the atmosphere of 
the Swedish EnUghtenment, so strongly 
promoted by this artistically inclined king 
(who collaborated on an opera when not 
overly engaged in affairs of state); while 
the young king basked in the prestige and 
honors won by Sweden's most famous 
naturalist and scholar. 

In 1774, after Linnaeus had suffered a 
stroke and lost his legendary zeal for work, 
Gustav sent him a collection of plants 
from Surinam packed "in hogsheads of 
spirit." Linnaeus, according to legend, left 
his bed and went back to work, describing 
the 200 species sent by His Majesty. When 
Linnaeus died four years later, Gustav eu- 
logized him before the Swedish legisla- 
ture: "I have lost a man who did honor to 
his fatherland as a worthy citizen, being 
celebrated all over the world." 

14 Natural History 4/93 


Yet the principle of petals and galaxies 
tells us that a far deeper connection, some- 
thing lovely and downright hermeneutical, 
must also link the two men — and I have 
found it! 

We must begin by asking, Where do the 
majority of decently educated folks (like 
me and thee) encounter Gustav HI, when 
our knowledge of things Scandinavian 
tends to be largely (and lamentably) blank 
between Thor and Ingrid Bergman? The 
answer, of course, is Giuseppe Verdi — for 
Gustav ni is the subject of Un ballo in 
maschera {A Masked Ball). On March 16, 
1792, King Gustav III was shot and mor- 
tally wounded while attending a midnight 
masquerade at the Stockholm Opera 
House. (His assailant, Jakob Johan Anck- 
arstrom, representing an aristocratic con- 
spiracy opposed to Gustav's reforms, was 
arrested, tried, convicted, flogged, and 
then beheaded after the offending hand 
that held the pistol had been hacked off.) 

This wonderful opera is now usually 
performed in its proper Swedish time and 
setting. But not at its debut in 1859. An at- 
tempt had just been made on the life of 
Napoleon IE, and the ever-watchful cen- 
sors of Naples decreed that Verdi must 
change the locale and demote the king to 
some lesser station, lest any potential as- 
sassin be inspired by a night at the opera. 

Verdi was no stranger to such official in- 
trusions. Seven years earlier, in Venice, a 
similar edict went forth from the censors 
for his opera about a jester named Tri- 
boulet in the court of Francis I of France. 
(We now know the opera for the renamed 
jester Rigoletto, while the French king was 
demoted to the Italian duke who sings "La 
donna e mobile.") 

This time Verdi did an even better job of 
masking, for he switched the locale to, of 
all places, my present home of Boston. 
Gustav in was transmogrified, teleported, 
and demoted to the fictitious Riccardo, 
"Governor of Boston" at some unspecified 
colonial time. (Boston had no governor, al- 
though Massachusetts did; while the 
thought of a ghttering masked ball at the 
opera house of this puritanical city contin- 
ues to provoke endless amusement.) The 
conspirators were recast as a pair of mis- 
creants named Samuele and Tommaso 
(Sam and Tom) traditionally played, we 
must note with sadness, either as Indians 
or blacks. 

We therefore usually meet Gustav HI in 
double masquerade: first, Uterally at the 
ball (where Anckarstrom needs half an act 
to find him); second, by Verdi in transfer- 
ring him a hemisphere away and demoting 
him to governor. And now I know the deep 
connection to Linnaeus — for Nature was 

'Tell your mother to get off my back! ' 

doubly masked when Linnaeus met her, 
and although he succeeded only in remov- 
ing the first disguise (we needed Darwin 
for the second), uncovering an entire 
world must rank as a greater challenge 
than discovering a king in a crowd of rev- 

Linnaeus is certainly acknowledged 
and honored among biologists. In the 
broadest realm, he developed the system 
of binomial nomenclature still used (with 
no substantial change since his formula- 
tion) to designate and classify all organ- 
isms. In the most parochial region, he gave 
us our own name: Homo sapiens. Yet I be- 
lieve that we systematically underestimate 
Linnaeus by measuring him against a false 
view of how scientific knowledge grows. 
We see him as a great organizer of knowl- 
edge but, in an important sense, as a codi- 
fier of error — for he beheved that he had 
classified God's created order, not (as we 
now know) the products of a genealogical 
system built by evolutionary change. 
Some commentators have even viewed his 
role as retrogressive, as Linnaeus's cre- 
ationist convictions canceled an older folk 
tradition of mutability, sometimes mis- 
taken as a natural antecedent to evolution, 
if only the Linnaeans had not intervened. 
(This older folk tradition spoke more of 
occasional monstrosities and weird hy- 
brids between distantly related species 
than of ordered systems changing by nat- 
ural laws. Fables about mutating beasts, 
and travelers' tales about fabulous crea- 
tures in distant lands, do not quahfy as 
prototypical evolutionary theories.) 

In this oversimplified view of scientific 
progress, we advance along a pathway of 
accumulating knowledge, guided by a 
timeless method of accurate observation 
and relentless logic. The classic expres- 
sion of this view can be found in the pref- 
ace of a book that must be on everyone's 
short fist of contenders for the greatest 
work of popular science ever written: 
T. H. Huxley's The Crayfish (his mar- 
velous monograph on how to teach the 
most abstruse principles of science by de- 
veloping the details of a single example, in 
this case the anatomy and physiology of a 
common animal). 

Huxley begins by telling us that "sci- 
ence is simply common sense at its best; 
that is, rigidly accurate in observation, 
and merciless to fallacy in logic." He then i 
argues that the study of organisms has pro- | 
gressed through the same three stages fol- ! 
lowed by all sciences in their develop- ' 
ment: an initial phase of gathering 
information without theoretical guidance 

16 Natural History 4/93 

(Huxley calls this first step Natural His- 
tory, defined as "accurate, but necessarily 
incomplete and unmethodized knowl- 
edge"); a second stage of systematizing 
and organization, although still without 
guiding theory (called Natural Philoso- 
phy); and finally the third rung and syn- 
thetic climax of Physical Science, "this 
final stage of knowledge, [where] the phe- 
nomena of nature are regarded as one con- 
tinuous series of causes and effects." 

In this system of three steps from unor- 
ganized description to causal interpreta- 
tion, Linnaeus occupies the middle rung. 
We are better off in Linnaeus's world be- 
cause our previously uimiethodized know- 
ledge has been ordered into a coherent 
scheme, but we are not yet tiiere because 
we have no decent theory for the causes of 
order. Huxley, in fact, argued that the third 
stage only began in his own century, fol- 
lowing the deatii of Linnaeus and his ap- 
proach: "The conscious attempt to con- 
struct a complete science of Biology 
hardly dates further back than. . .the begin- 
ning of this century, while it has received 
its strongest impulse, in our own day, from 

1 would agree witii most modem histo- 
rians of science in branding this view as 
both misleading and unfair to our prede- 
cessors. I do not deny that science pro- 
gresses in the crucial sense of achieving 
more accurate and comprehensive expla- 
nations of empirical reality, but two as- 
pects of tiie older positivist view (so weU 
exemplified by Huxley) are quite wrong: 
the notion of a timeless scientific method 
based on rigorously objective observation 
and logic and the idea that earlier systems 
were either theory-free or theory-poor be- 
cause explanation can only follow accu- 
rate description. 

Theory-free science makes about as 
much sense as value-free politics. Both 
terms are oxymoronic. All thinking about 
the natural world must be informed by the- 
ory, whether or not we articulate our pre- 
ferred structure of explanation to our- 
selves. The old fabulists of Huxley's first 
phase had a theory — if only the folk idea 
that starlight or serious fright could influ- 
ence the form of a fetus in the womb. The 
taxonomists of Huxley's second phase had 
a theory — that God had created a timeless 
order for human ingenuity to find. These 
theories may have been wrong, but they 
were as pervasive (and restrictive) in the 
structuring of knowledge as any systems 
that followed. Linnaeus's Homo sapiens is 
a thinking machine (or a thinking reed, if 
you prefer the botanical metaphor); we 

cannot collect information without a the- 
ory to organize our searches and observa- 
tions. Moreover, theory is always, and 
must be, colored by social and psycholog- 
ical biases of surrounding culture; we have 
no utteriy objective observation or univer- 
sally unambiguous logic. 

With this perspective, we may return to 
the subject of unmasking and the compar- 
ison of Linnaeus with Gustav HI — for if 
scientific progress depends more upon re- 
placing theories than adding observations 
(and then waiting until they coalesce into a 
proper explanation), and if all theories are 
bolstered by cultural biases, then any 
process of replacement requires an un- 
masking of previous structures (protective 
clothing, whatever their virtues). 

We must remove two disguises to reach 
Gustav m. We may also epitomize tiie his- 
tory of our knowledge of organic order as 
a double unmasking. Linnaeus is the 
proper focus and symbol of the first great 
unmasking. Darwin of the second. This 
perspective challenges our antiquated and 
disrespectful view of Linnaeus as an old 
worthy who got it all wrong despite an ad- 
mirable passion for order and allows us to 
see the great Swede as a scientist whose 
brilliant, coherent system fruitfully re- 
placed a severely constraining tiieory. 

Darwin tore away nature's second mask 

by establishing the explanatory basis for 
natural order in a theory of evolutionary 
transformation. But you cannot have a 
proper theory of order before you know 
the order that must be explained — and 
Linnaeus established this foundation with 
his method and practice of taxonomy. If 
Linnaeus had merely gathered and codi- 
fied all the disorganized information long 
accumulating in Huxley's first stage, then 
we might say: "So what? Someone had to 
do it eventiially; Linnaeus lived at the right 
time and was lucky enough to possess the 
right combination of zeal and tidiness." 
But Linnaeus didn't just codify; he un- 
masked. His system didn't just gather to- 
gether; it replaced a different principle of 
organization that had hidden nature's 
order from our sight. We cannot conceive 
of Darwin without Linnaeus, of evolution 
without prior knowledge of taxonomic 

The first mask covered namre with our 
parochial penchant for viewing the uni- 
verse as constructed either for us or in our 
terms. Artificial orderings by some system 
of human evaluation, or some principle of 
our mental or linguistic usages, can only 
mask nature's truly genealogical arrange- 
ment. Consider the monographs of the 
most famous systematizers at the incep- 
tion of modem natijral history — the great 


"Good news! Nog has volunteered to be 
the first person on earth to eat a raw oyster!' 

sixteenth-century scholars Ulysse Al- 
drovandi in Bologna and Konrad Gesner 
in Zurich. Aldrovandi used an eclectic sys- 
tem based on multiple, and sometimes 
contradictory, criteria organized only by 
some notion of importance to humans (or 
just noticeability by humans). He began 
his History of Quadrupeds with the horse, 
quod praecipuam nobis utilitatem prae- 
beat (which exhibits particular use to us). 
His volume on birds mixes a range of cri- 
teria in its sequencing by human inter- 
est — from the noble (eagles and hawks 
considered first) to the wise (owls), the 
similar (bats, falsely placed), then moving 
to the big (ostriches), the awesome 
(gryphons), and on to parrots, crows, and 
finally, all the small things that go tweet. 

Gesner makes even less appeal to any 
notion of natural order by simply proceed- 
ing through the Latin alphabet in his 1551 
volume on mammals — from De Alee (on 
elks) to De Vulpe (on foxes). Gesner does 
follow the equally anthropocentric, but at 
least not quite so artificial, principle of the 
"chain of being" in sequencing his subse- 
quent volumes — two on birds, three on 
cold-blooded terrestrial vertebrates. But 
volume 4 then amalgamates all water- 
dwelUng creatures, with a primary empha- 
sis on fishes (next step down the vertebrate 
ladder), although also including mer- 
maids, medusas, and octopuses. 

I do not say that Linnaeus was the first 
to question these anthropocentric systems 
or that his work makes a sudden break 
from this older tradition. He represents the 
culmination and codification of more than 
a century's work by natural historians 
throughout Europe, laboring on collec- 
tions gathered throughout the world. But 
his legendary zeal and energy for work, 
his incredible memory and capacity for 
synthesis, led to a series of books — look- 
ing more like the products of an industry 
than the output of one man — that estab- 
hshed both the practice and the structure 
of modem taxonomy. 

Linnaeus produced his unmasking of 
nature at two levels — first, by designating 
species as basic units and establishing 
principles for their uniform definition and 
naming, and second, by arranging species 
into a wider taxonomic system based on a 
search for natural order rather than one of 
human preference or convenience. Lin- 
naeus's binomial method has been used, 
ever since his Systema naturae (first edi- 
tion 1735, definitive edition for animal 
taxonomy 1758), as the official basis for 
naming organisms. Linnaeus gave each 
species a two- word (binomial) name: the 
first (beginning with a capital letter) repre- 
senting its genus (and potentially shared 
with other closely related species) and the 
second (beginning with a lowercase letter) 


called the trivial name, representing the 
unique and distinctive marker of a species. 
(Dogs and wolves can both be in the genus 
Canis, but each must have a separate triv- 
ial name to designate the species — Canis 
domesticus and Canis lupus, in this case.) 

Linnaeus did not invent this system 
while seated in his armchair. He evolved it 
from the usual convention of representing 
species by a string of Latin words epito- 
mizing their distinctive characters. In this 
system, the first word (since it began the 
phrase) was capitalized, while the others 
remained lowercase. Linnaeus first experi- 
mented with regularizing the form and 
number of the word string (one of his ear- 
lier systems allowed a maximum of twelve 
words per species). 

He then decided that a summary of the 
summary, restricted to two words, might 
work best as a device for tabulation and 
standardization. At first he regretted giv- 
ing up the key idea that a word string ; 
should accurately describe the key fea- 
tures of the species — for two words are not 
enough and may not even turn out to be 
appropriate. (I am scarcely the first to i 
point out that Linnaeus may have erred i 
spectacularly in his most famous decision 
to name us Homo sapiens.) But he later re- 
alized that he had accomplished some- 
thing enormously useful and clever with- 
out realizing why. The Linnaean species 
name is not a description; it is a place- 
holder, a legal device to keep track and to 
confer a disfinctive name upon each nat- 
ural entity. Any comprehensive system 
based on millions of unique items must 
use such a mechanism, and Linnaeus fi- 
nally understood that he had brought a 
necessary and fundamental principle of 
naming through the back door of a search 
for modes of epitomized description (a dif- 
ferent problem solved in other ways). 

But Linnaeus's definition of species — 
not his mechanism for naming them — 
codified the change that unmasked nature. 
For Linnaeus's definition fractured the 
conceit of a human-centered system with 
basic entities defined in terms of our needs 
and uses. Linnaeus proclaimed that 
species are the natural entities that God 
placed on earth at the Creation. They are 
his, not ours — and they exist as they are, I 
independent of our whims. (We may have 
trouble recognizing and defining them, but; 
our difficulties do not alter God's actions.) 
In a famous maxim (number 157) of the 
Fundamenta botanica (1736), Linnaeus 
proclaimed: Species tot sunt diversae quot 
diversas formas ab initio creavit infinitum 
Ens (there are as many species as the Infi- 

18 Natural History 4/93 

nite Being created diverse forms in the be- 

Since creationist-bashing is a noble and 
necessary pursuit these days, readers may 
wonder why I am praising such an invoca- 
tion of God's power to create immutable 
entities all at once — especially since Lin- 
naeus substituted this idea for earlier no- 
tions of looser definition and mutability. 
But, as I argued above, the history of sci- 
ence progresses in such a manner — from 
theory to theory along a complex surface 
with a slant toward greater empirical ade- 
quacy, not along a straight and narrow 
path, pushed by a gathering snowball of 
factual accumulation. The conceptual 
change may be enormous, but Darwin's 
substitution of natural selection in steps, 
for God all at once, did not require any 
major overhaul in practice. Species are 
real whether created by God or con- 
structed by natural selection — and Dar- 
win's conceptual shift, the second un- 
masking, required little revision in 
Linnaean methods. 

(Linnaeus later moved away from this 
rigid insistence that God had created all 
species at the beginning of time. In his 
early work, he repeatedly proclaimed: mil- 
lae species novae [no new species]. But 
just as a recent president said something 
similar about taxes and hved to regret his 
foolishness, Linnaeus later argued that 
new species could form by hybridization 
between pairs fi"om the original creation. 
He even toyed with the idea that God may 
have created only a common source for 
each genus, or even for each order, and 
then allowed subsequent species to form 
as hybrids. Some commentators, falsely 
believing that we may honor only those 
we deem right by today's standards, have 
grasped at these later views to recast Lin- 
naeus as at least a closet evolutionist. But 
such a strategy must be rejected on two 
grounds. First, Linnaeus was decidedly 
not an evolutionist. What can be more dif- 
ferent than a fully genealogical system, 
based upon constant change and common 
ancestry for all life, and a claim that God 
made fewer than all his forms at first and 
then let the others slide into slots of a pre- 
ordained system by combination? Second, 
Linnaeus was a great scholar in his own 
terms, a man who pulled the first mask 
from nature as surely as Darwin snatched 
the second. We don't need to clothe him at 
Armani's in order to respect his accom- 

At the second level of organizing spe- 
cies into a larger taxonomic system, Lin- 
naeus also fractured previous schemes of 

anthropocentric arrangement by insisting 
that relationships among species be ties of 
natural order, not human convenience. 
God had created according to a rational 
scheme; species are items that build God's 
framework. Taxonomists had been given 
the sublime job of discovering God's plan 
in the interrelationships among his 
species. (The ties are ideological in Lin- 
naeus's system, not genealogical as in Dar- 
win's — but chains of implication among 
ideas are no less firm than links of matter 
in physical continuity.) This key point was 
beautifully expressed by none other than 
Dag Hammarskjold in an address on the 

250th anniversary of Linnaeus's birth, for 
no Swede, whatever his profession, could 
neglect such a national hero: "Here, man is 
no longer the center of the world, only a 
witness, but a witness who is also a partner 
in the silent life of nature, bound by secret 
affinities to the trees." 

The history of science is studded with 
monumental egos, but none holds a candle 
to Linnaeus. I doubt that anyone before 
Muhammad Ali surpassed Linnaeus's own 
third-person assessment from one of his 
several autobiographical documents. 

God has suffered him to peep into his se- 
cret cabinet. 


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God has permitted him to see more of his 
created work than any mortal before 

God has bestowed upon him the greatest 
insight into nature-study, greater than 
anyone has gained.. . . 

None before him has so totally reformed a 
whole science and made a new epoch. 

None before him has arranged all the prod- 
ucts of nature with such lucidity. 

Arrogant, yes. But note that the cabinet 
is God's and the products thereof. If some- 
one with an ego so unbounded still stated 
that he had only discovered God's order, 
not constructed his own from the transcen- 
dent brilliance of his unique psyche, then I 
must suppose that he truly embraced the 
idea of natural order independent of the 
human mind (even at its Linnaean 
apogee). I would be suspicious of such 
protestations from a more modest man. 

In practice, Linnaeus classified his 
plants by the form, number, and arrange- 
ment of their organs of fructification — the 
so-called sexual system. Basically, he di- 
vided plants into classes by the number 
and position of stamens, and he then di- 
vided classes into orders by the number of 
pistils. Ironically, he knew that such a sys- 
tem must be artificial — an almost numero- 

logical imposition of human logic upon 
nature's greater complexity. All his life he 
searched for a methodus natiiralis, or nat- 
ural method, to capture God's objective 
arrangement in his hierarchy of names — 
and he never succeeded. A solution to this 
problem awaited the second unmasker, for 
no rational order of divine intelligence 
unites species. The natural ties are ge- 
nealogical connections along contingent 
pathways of history — and such ties, al- 
though recoverable once you know the 
system, do not fall into patterns of beauti- 
ful symmetry or complex geometry that 
creationists like Linnaeus anticipated, and 
therefore could never find. Remember that 
the masks discussed in this essay are not 
camouflage that nature places over her 
products, but impediments that we con- 
struct with false theories. 

Since this is an essay about connec- 
tions, I must end with one of the most 
striking of all meaningful coincidences. 
Where did the second unmasking begin: 
Where did the world first hear the sounds 
of Darwin's revolution? London, yes, for 
Darwin became a homebody after his Bea- 
gle voyage and never crossed the English 
Channel. But where in London? 

When Linnaeus's son and successor 
died in 1783, his mother and sisters de- 
cided to sell the great collection — speci- 
mens, cabinets, books, letters, and manu- 
scripts — to the highest bidder. They were 
purchased by James Edward Smith, a 
young Enghsh naturalist and son of a rich 
manufacturer in Norwich, for the incred- 
ible bargain price (even by eighteenth- 
century standards) of just over a thousand 

We must now consider one last Gusta- 
vian connection. The king was in Italy and 
France during hurried negotiations that led 
to the sale. Many historians speculate that, 
had he been in Stockholm and known of 
plans to deport such a national treasure, he 
would probably have intervened (espe- 
cially since a Swedish buyer had been 
found, but only after the sale had been 
legally concluded). The most famous 
nineteenth-century Swedish biography of 
Linnaeus states: "Had he [Gustav] been 
informed in proper time it is certain that he 
would have strongly exerted himself and 
rescued these precious collections for the 
fatherland, especially when one considers 
his care for Sweden's honor, and the great 
admiration he entertained for Lirmaeus." 


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According to one apocryphal tale — actu- 
ally no more than a persistent rumor — 
Gustav III dispatched a warship to inter- 
cept the brig that had akeady sailed with 
Linnaeus's collections on board, but the 
brig had too great a head start and reached 
London safely. 

In any case, Smith treasured the collec- 
tions all his life and kept them in good 
order. When he died in 1828, they were 
bought by a fledgling organization called 
the Linnean Society of London. The col- 
lections still form the shrine and center- 
piece of this organization, Britain's fore- 
most society for the study of natural 
history. They reside in Burlington House, 
right on Piccadilly in the center of Lon- 
don. I once visited this shrine and work- 
place for a consummately practical reason. 
Linnaeus liimself named the type species 
of the genus of snails that forms the sub- 
ject of my technical research. This species, 
Cerion uva, comes from Cura9ao, and I 
wanted to make sure that Linnaeus's spec- 
imen truly represents this distinctive 
species. I was ushered into the vault of the 
holy of hoUes and shown the specimen. 
Linnaeus was right again; it is Cerion uva 
from Curasao. 

When Charles Darwin received Wal- 
lace's manuscript from Temate, and real- 
ized that his younger colleague was about 
to scoop twenty years of work on natural 
selection, he appealed to his friends to find 
some honorable way that would recognize 
both his priority and Wallace's discovery. 
His friends proposed a joint presentation 
of Wallace's paper with some of Darwin's 
earlier, unpublished writings. Darwin did 
not attend this meeting in 1858, for he was 
at home mourning the death of his young 
son. But the meeting was held in Lon- 
don — at the rooms of the Linnean Society 
in the building that housed Linnaeus's own 
specimens. The joint papers were pub- 
lished in the 1858 volume of the Proceed- 
ings of the Linnean Society of London. 

Thus did the second unmasking begin 
in the transposed home and living pres- 
ence of the first — and the ghost of Lin- 
naeus smiled (being more generous and 
ecumenical than the great Swede in hfe) as 
Darwin's words revealed a causal basis for 
the natural order that Linnaeus had codi- 
fied. And the psalmist intoned his ancient 
song: "Behold, how good and how pleas- 
ant it is for brethren to dwell together in 

Stephen Jay Gould teaches biology, geol- 
ogy, and the history of science at Han>ard 



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Britain. World Capital of Tradition, 

This Land 

Simpson Township 
Barrens, Illinois 

by Robert H. Mohlenbrock 

Eight summers ago, while driving along 
a country road through Shawnee National 
Forest, just north of the tiny village of 
Simpson, Dlinois, botanist Max Hutchison 
of the Nature Conservancy noticed an oc- 
casional purple coneflower and butterfly 
milkweed blooming along the roadside at 
the edge of the woods. These two plants do 
not usually grow in forests but in prairies 
and glades, open habitats with few trees. 
Later, when Hutchison and Forest Service 
regional botanist Lawrence R. Stritch 
walked into the dense upland forest adja- 
cent to these wildflowers, they found that 
it contained primarily post oaks, chin- 
quapin oaks, and eastern red cedar, with a 
sparse understory of woodland herbs. The 
purple coneflower and butterfly milkweed 
did not grow under the trees. 

A check of the first government sur- 

veyor's report for the region, from the 
1830s, turned up the term "barrens" ap- 
plied to some parts of the Simpson area. 
Today, barrens refers to a forest area 
where prairie plants grow beneath a 
canopy of sparse, usually stunted trees. 
Botanists have not used that term to de- 
scribe a natural community in Illinois in 
this century. We do not know what these 
early surveyors were looking at, but it was 
obviously not the closed forest we see 
there today. To test whether more open 
conditions would encourage the growth of 
purple coneflower, butterfly milkweed, 
and other species that may have been pre- 
sent in the former barrens, Stritch pro- 
posed subjecting a patch of the forest to 
some drastic management. 

In the fall of 1987, six acres of the for- 
est were thinned of the large, misshapen 

trees, called wolf trees, spared during past 
logging operations because of their mini- 
mal commercial value. Only the healthiest 
post oaks were left. In all, thirteen cords of 
wood were removed. And in the early 
spring of 1988, a fire was set and allowed 
to consume the leaf litter that had built up 
during the past decades. Such fires retard 
the growth of and eventually kill the 
shrubs that live beneath the forest trees. 

Within weeks, as the new growing sea- 
son got under way, prairie grasses, includ- 
ing big and little bluestems and Indian 
grass, began to spring up throughout the 
burned-over area. Purple coneflowers and 
butterfly milkweeds increased manyfold, 
flourishing even beneath the remaining 
trees. Rosettes of leaves came up every- 
where; most were perennials, not mature 
enough to flower and thus be identified in 

Praine plants crowd new 1} created baiitiii,. abo\e, at the iml oj Uctohei Peiiodicpres 
will help maintain this habitat. Left: purple coneflower, a typical prairie plant. 

Kathy Clay 


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26 Natural History 4/93 

Purple milkweed is one of more than 200 species to appear in the barrens. 

Rob and Melissa Simpson 

1988. The seeds for some of these plants 
may have been lying dormant in the soil 
for years; most were probably blown in 
from the limestone glades that dot the 
upper slopes in the vicinity. 

Botanists eagerly awaited the 1989 
growing season to see the transformation 

Simpson Township Barrens 

For visitor information write: 
Forest Supervisor 
Shawnee National Forest 
901 South Commercial Street 
Harrisburg, Ilhnois 62946 

continue, and many local groups and indi- 
viduals, caught up in the project, volun- 
teered their help. The boy scout troop con- 
structed a split-rail fence to mark off the 
area, the county highway department do- 
nated and installed a new culvert to divert 
drainage water from the road away from 
the project, inmates from a nearby correc- 
tional center cleared the debris that had re- 
sulted from the free cutting, and the Nature 
Conservancy donated funds to purchase 
needed equipment. For its part, the Forest 
Service offered the thirteen cords of wood 
removed from the area as free firewood to 
the local residents. 

The spring of 1989 brought one pleas- 
ant surprise after another as the barrens 
community took shape. Mead's sedge, a 
prairie species with bluish leaves and slen- 

Joe LeMonnier 

der rhizomes, found a niche and spread out 
over an area of about ten square feet. Pink- 
ish purple flowers of the hairy phlox con- 
trasted brilliantly in May with the orange- 
yellow blossoms of hoary puccoon. Low 
clumps of bird's-foot violets, not recorded 
from the Simpson area previously, 
abounded. In the vicinity of exposed lime- 
stone pebbles, colonies of marbleseed ap- 
peared for the first time. A three-foot-tall 
herb whose leaves and stems are covered 
by short, stiff, silver hairs, marbleseed pro- 
duces inch-long, tubular, creamy flowers 
followed by shiny, pearl-white seeds. 

By summer, the barrens contained a riot 
of colorful wildflowers, including purple 
milkweed, yellow coneflower, showy rud- 
beckia (a type of black-eyed Susan), and 
tuberous Indian plantain. Autumn brought 
forth the yellows of prairie rosinweeds, 
sunflowers, and goldenrods, and the pur- 
ples and whites of numerous kinds of 
asters, as well as several typical prairie 
grasses. Prairie rose, a common, low- 
growing shrub, bore two-inch-wide pink 
flowers from June through September. 

Across the road from the barrens is an- 
other post oak woods with barrens species 
on the fringes. The soil is more acidic 
there because of the chunks of sandstone 
that fall from fifty-foot cliffs above the 
woods. Six acres of this woodland were 
also burned in 1988, but few trees were re- 
moved. The burning has resulted in an in- 
crease of shade-tolerant, acid-loving 
species, including Enslen's blackberry 
(designated an endangered species by the 
state), the rare shrubby evening primrose, 
and several other species that had not been 
recorded before from the area. Beyond the 
burned area, where the post oak woods 
slope down to a rocky creek below this 
second barrens, heart-leaf plantain and the 
superb lily grow. Heart-leaf plantain, cur- 
rently being considered by the U. S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service for fisting as an en- 
dangered species, is one of the rarest 
plants in the country, while the superb lily 
is another species designated endangered 
by Illinois. 

Stritch and his colleagues burned both 
barrens again in the spring of 1990, and 
are considering another bum in the near 
future. Each year, more plant species are 
discovered in the bairens: the total already 
exceeds 200. 

Robert H. Mohlenbrock, professor emeri- 
tus of plant biology at Southern Illinois 
University, Carbondale, explores the bio- 
logical and geological highlights of the 
156 U.S. imtional forests. 

Adventure in Paradise. 
Your Quest Stops Here. 


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C R U ll*-S E S 

Science Lite 

Der Ring des Bubbalungen 

Borrow unto others before they borrow unto you 
by Roger L. Welsch 

It was the day that you skipped class 
thirty years ago to have coffee and a 
doughnut with that cute sophomore in 
Intro to Anthro. I didn't have a chance 
with her, even with a chocolate doughnut, 
so I went to class. And that was the day 
Cro-Magnon Christensen bored us with 
his lecture about Bronislaw Malinowski's 
study of the Trobriand Islanders' Kula 
Ring. The Trobriand Islanders — get 
this! — trade red-shell necklaces clockwise 
around the Pacific islands and white-shell 
armbands counterclockwise along the 
same route. The goal is to accumulate 
more and more armbands and necklaces 
and thus more and more prestige, the shell 
jewelry having no value other than pres- 
tige. I can't recall what Mahnowski con- 
cluded, but C-M Christensen used it as an 
example of how arbitrary human behavior 
can differ from one culture to another 

He was wrong. In the intervening years 
I have been struck again and again by how 
much alike we are — us and them, Ameri- 
cans and less reasonable people, penny- 
stock shufflers and Kula Ring runners. 
Malinowski could have saved a lot of trou- 
ble and transportation costs by coming to 
Nebraska. This realization came to me 
after a long period of serious observation, 
which pretty much lets Malinowski off the 
hook, since he didn't spend a lot of time in 
Nebraska. Here it's not the Kula Ring but 
the Bubba Ring, the big difference being 
that the Bubba Ring involves not worth- 
less shells but objects of real value. Other- 
wise the object of the two social systems is 
pretty much the same: do unto others be- 
fore they do unto you. 

Woodrow Buehler and I were at an auc- 
tion last week when a six-foot iron pry bar 
went on the block. Woodrow is constantly 
borrowing my pry bar because in his busi- 
ness — plumbing and salvage — a pry bar is 
the sort of thing you need every day. That 

means Woodrow borrows my pry bar on a 
regular basis. Then I go back over to his 
place and get it back, and then he comes 
here and borrows it, and so on. 

The pry bar at the auction drew an ini- 
tial bid of twenty-five cents from Stan 
Kowalski, who opens every bid with an 
offer of twenty-five cents, whether the ob- 
ject in question is a mint 1957 Chevy 
hardtop with 12,000 actual miles on it or a 
five-gallon bucket of used firecrackers. 
This time the bid stuck at a quarter for a 
full minute while the auctioneer begged 
for a dollar. "Fifty cents," Carl Kohl 
yelled. Another long pause. 

I poked Woodrow. "That thing is going 
to bring less than two bucks." No reaction. 

"Buck!" muttered Stan. Woodrow 
rocked on his heels. 

"Woodrow, what are you waiting for?" 
He looked at me as if I had just suggested 
he slash his wrists or go back to school. 

"Buck fifty!" crowed Carl. 

"Going, going, going... GONE! Buck 
fifty to Carl Kohl." 

I sputtered to Woodrow, "You could 
have had that bar for the price of a beer" 

"Why. . ." he paused. "Why would I buy 
a pry bar when you already own one?" 

Bubba Ring Rule 1: There is no need 
for two people to each own something hke 
a pry bar. 

I understand borrowing a six-foot iron 
pry bar: It just sits in my shed until 
Woodrow comes by to pick it up again, but 
the issue isn't always that clear. For exam- 
ple, Woodrow owns a canoe, but he 
doesn't own paddles. Paddles, to my mind, 
are an integral part of a canoe. Would you 
have a rod and reel and borrow fishing 
line? A road and borrow gravel? No. But 
in the Bubba Ring, this is a common logic. 

I once showed Woodrow and our mu- 
tual buddy Lunchbox a filter I had in- 
stalled in our water line. As water comes 

from our well, it passes through the filter, 
which removes ugly-bugghes, if you can 
excuse the technical terminology. Our 
water tastes fine, is healthful, and no 
longer requires chewing. Since Lunchbox 
has the same problems with his water, I 
thought he would be interested in the filter, 
and since Woodrow is a plumber, I thought 
it might strike his fancy, too. 

Lunchbox was interested; Woodrow 
was fascinated. "That thing is fantastic," 
Woodrow enthused. "Lunchbox, you 
ought to borrow it." 

Woodrow had just proposed that I lend 
out part of our plumbing! When I regained 
my composure, I was flabbergasted. I ex- 
claimed, "Woodrow, you're dense as a lug 
nut!" Woodrow and Lunchbox were both 
shocked by my small-mindedness. 

Bubba Ring Rule 2: Nothing is beyond 

My arrival in Dannebrog twenty years 
ago generated some comment — for exam- 
ple, "What a dufus!" Thing is, I hstened to 
my father, who to this day says, "Never 
borrow anything, and when you do, return 
it in better condition flian when you got 
it." I love my dad, but he doesn't know zip 
about the Bubba Ring. 

Slick once asked me to come up to his 
house and help him trim some trees hang- 
ing over his garage. "Sure," I said. 

"Bring along your saws," SUck said. 
"And your ladders. And your tractor. And 
ropes and chains." 

Uh-oh— the Bubba Ring! I thought that 
I might avoid the inevitable complications 
of the Bubba Ring Syndrome by not let- 
ting my tools out of my sight. That way, 
when we finished the job, I'd just bring my 
stuff home with me. Such innocence! I 
was lucky to leave Slick's place with my 
tractor and pants. He wound up with the 
ladder, ropes, chains, and saw, which I did 
not see again for three years. I 

28 Natural History 4/93 

The only reason I e\er got an}' of m}- 
tools back is that Slick moved. Friends of- 
fered to help him. but he smiled with total 
self-confidence and said that he wouldn't 
need help. M he had to do was tell e\er)-- 
one to come get the stuff he had borrowed 
over the past twent}' years and he could 
move what was left in a cardboard box. 

Biibba Ring Rule 3: You can sa\e your- 
self the trouble of returning things in good 
condition by not remming them at all. 

Slick did what he said he was going to 
do. I got my saw. chains, ropes, and ladder 
and a lot of other suiff I had almost forgot- 
ten. A week later. Slick asked me to come 
and help him dim some trees that were 
rubbing the shingles of his new house. I 
said I was busy, but that didn't work. 
■■Oka\-. Woodrow and I will come oxer and 
pick the smff up. Bet you don't even haxe 
it out of your pickup truck yet." 

I didn't. Wlien I mumbled that 1 hadn't 
had my tools long enough to get reac- 
quainted with them, even Shck had to 
agree. "Hmmm." he said disappro\ingl\". 
"I was hoping \'ou would replace the bad 
rope on our block-and-tackle and sharpen 
the chain on our saw." 

Biibba Ring Rule 4: Possession may be 
nine parts of the law. but the tenth part, re- 
pair and replacement, is the owner's re- 

.And what's that stuff about "our" block- 
and-tackle. "our" saw? 

Bubba Ring Rule 5: If you had trouble 
with the community propen\ ruling in 
your recent divorce, don't even think 
about getting involved in the Bubba Ring! 

Last week I witnessed a raging argu- 
ment between Slick and RusseU Barker. 
When Slick got married a few years ago. 
he borrowed Russell's good shoes and 
ne\er got around to returning them. ""You 
stupid, no-good, irresponsible deadbeati" 
RusseU roared into Shck's face. ""I want 

my shoes back, and my bowling ball, and 
bicycle, and hedge trimmer." 

I expected fur} but Slick was neither 
angrv^ nor hurt. He was indignant. RusseU 
was \-iolating the rules of the Bubba Ring. 
■"No matter how nast}' you get. Russell." 
he said. "You're not going to make me 
mad enough to gi\'e } our stuff back." 

Bubba Ring Rule 6: The customer is al- 
ways right. 

As in the Trobriand Islands. Bubba 
Ring exchanges are a matter of prestige 
and strateg}'. not \alue and commerce, and 
I haven't lived out here all these }ears 
without learning a little about how things 
are done. This morning, for example. 
Woodrow stood in our farmyard kicking 
gravel and sucking his coffee. finaU}' ask- 
ing, "You stiU got the posthole digger I 
saw in your shed last summer?" 

""Uh. I lent it to Kenn}' Price when he 
was building a fence this spring."' I pawed 
casually through the rubble in the box of 
Woodrow's pickup. 

■"Isn't that the handle I see o\er there in 
the comer of the shed?" he said. tr}ing to 
draw m}' attention awa}' from his white 
armband shells. 

""WeU. look at this I Here's my torque 
wrench." I said. tr}ing to divert his gaze 
from my red necklace sheUs. 

■■By goUy. that is your posthole digger!" 
He mo\ed toward the shed. Should I de- 
fend m}' territon,- or launch a threat against 
his? I tried both: ■"He}'. Woodrow. I need to 
borrow this set of socket wrenches of 
}ours for a couple days." and I mo\ed 
briskly toward the shed to head oft' his 
shopping expedition. 

■■■Yep. here it is — the posthole digger 
and a minnow trap! I'm setting catfish 
lines tonight. I'U bring }^ou fish by morn- 
ing, wait and see!" 

■■Uh. Woodrow, I need the furniture 
doUy }0U borrowed Uvo years ago." 


■■We're moving the fridge." 

■"Did vou get a new fridge?" 

■■Uh, why?" 

"1 was thinking ma}be I could borrow 
\our old one for a bait cooler" 

■■WeU. I am going to. uh. put the old one 
in my shop. . .and besides. I need my rake 
back because, er. after we redecorate the 
kitchen, we're starting on the lawn." 

■"Look at this! A tiling spade! Just what 
I need for. ..." I was losing ground. 

Bubba Ring Rule 7: A beginner always 
loses ground. 

E\entuaU}- 1 suspected that I was bemg 
watched. I'd bu}' a wheelbarrow in Rising 
Cit}' and two days later, there was SlicL 
w^anting to borrow a wh